Appeals Court Temporarily Reinstates Texas Abortion Law

It's been quite the busy few days to do with the Texas abortion law which bans abortions once a fetal heartbeat is detected, at around six weeks. Late Friday night, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals temporarily reinstated the Texas Heartbeat Act, issuing an administrative stay of a preliminary injunction granted by Judge Robert Pitman on Wednesday. Judge Pitman, an Obama appointee, who blocked enforcement of the Texas Heartbeat Act issued a ruling with particularly strong words against the law. 

Now: Texas's 6-week abortion ban law, SB 8, is in effect again for now — the 5th Circuit has granted a temporary, administrative stay of this week's preliminary injunction (which halted enforcement of SB 8) to consider the state's request for a longer stay pending appeal— Zoe Tillman (@ZoeTillman) October 9, 2021

"It is ordered that Appellant's emergency motion to stay the preliminary injunction pending appeal is temporarily held in abeyance pending further order by this motions panel," the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Friday.

The court is requesting that the Department of Justice (DOJ) respond to the emergency motion by 5 p.m. on Tuesday, October 12. Attorney General Merrick Garland announced the DOJ's lawsuit last month. 

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) quickly announced he would appeal, as Madeline reported on Thursday.

We disagree with the Court's decision and have already taken steps to immediately appeal it to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.

The sanctity of human life is, and will always be, a top priority for me.— Texas Attorney General (@TXAG) October 7, 2021

He did so on Friday.

Today I have filed a motion to stay the District Court's lawless order in the 5th Circuit.

I'll continue to fight against the Biden Administration's overreach. #SB8— Texas Attorney General (@TXAG) October 8, 2021

Pitman's 113 page ruling blocked enforcement of the law, referring to it as "flagrantly unconstitutional" more than once. The law allows for private citizens to sue abortion providers, people who pay for a woman's abortion, and others who may have aided or abetted in an abortion. The law is also retroactive. 

In his ruling, Pitman indicated that Texas could appeal the preliminary injunction.

"That other courts may find a way to avoid this conclusion is theirs to decide; this Court will not sanction one more day of this offensive deprivation of such an important right," he wrote in closing. 

As Madeline also reported, at least six abortion facilities went back to performing abortions, including Whole Woman's Health. Pro-life activist Lila Rose, the president of Live Action, had called out the abortion facility's promoting the news on Twitter as "devastating" "evil," and "unspeakably tragic."

Devastating. Evil. Unspeakably tragic. There is a now bounty on the bodies of the babies whose lives had been spared over the last month by Texas' Heartbeat Law. Now abortion clinics are calling up their mothers and telling them to come in so they can finish the kill. ??— Lila Rose (@LilaGraceRose) October 7, 2021

In celebrating the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals' decision from Friday night, Rose noted that 100 unborn lives will be saved each day. 

Truly amazing news. The heartbeat law was saving an estimated 100 lives every day.— Lila Rose (@LilaGraceRose) October 9, 2021

Zoe Tillman made an interesting note about the makeup of the court of appeals.

Note that this is a different 5th Circuit panel than the earlier SB 8 case case to reach the court. Judge James Ho is one of the most conservative, vocally anti-abortion judges in the country, but Judge Carl Stewart is part of the court's minority of liberal-leaning judges— Zoe Tillman (@ZoeTillman) October 9, 2021

In her reporting for BuzzFeed, Tillman noted that "the court will now decide whether to grant Texas's request for a longer-term hold that would keep the law, SB 8, in effect while the state appeals its loss in the district court. The circuit ordered the Justice Department to respond by Tuesday at 5 p.m. CT."