Babies’ lives continue to be saved in Texas as a federal appeals court has once again ruled that the Lone Star State’s ban on most abortions can remain in effect while the federal government’s legal challenge to it proceeds through the courts.
The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has issued a formal stay (i.e., temporary hold) of a lower federal court order blocking the Texas Heartbeat Act (aka SB8). The law prohibits abortions once a fetal heartbeat can be detected – usually around 6 weeks gestation. SB8 took effect September 1, and the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) filed suit against the law in early September.
In the DOJ suit, the appeals court had already granted what is called an “administrative stay” of an injunction issued by U.S. District Court Judge Robert Pitman on October 6. That stay was only to last until a three-judge panel on the 5th Circuit could address Texas’ request for a longer stay – i.e., until an appeal could be heard. And now that panel has ruled, 2-1, that Judge Pitman’s order shall not take effect “pending appeal.”
In simple terms, “pending appeal” means that Texas can now formally ask the 5th Circuit to overturn Pitman’s injunction while the law, in the interim, remains in effect.
In addition to the lawsuit from the DOJ, the Texas law is also being challenged in federal and state court actions brought by abortion sellers. The Daily Citizen recently reported on Texas’ remarkable legal victories in all of these cases.
The 5th Circuit also ordered an “expedited” appeal of the DOJ case, but at this point there has been no date set for oral arguments or even a schedule for when written briefs might be due.
However, proceedings at the 5th Circuit may take a back seat for the time being, as the DOJ has announced its intent to immediately approach the U.S. Supreme Court and seek an emergency order blocking the Texas law.
For now, however, the 5th Circuit’s ruling is worth celebrating.
Texas Right to Life Director of Media and Communication Kimberlyn Schwartz expressed her organization’s satisfaction with the most recent ruling in a press release.
“We are excited to continue saving hundreds of lives through the Texas Heartbeat Act,” Schwartz said. “However, the battle is not finished. We expect the Biden administration to appeal to the Supreme Court of the U.S., and we are confident Texas will ultimately defeat these attacks on our life-saving efforts.”
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton commented that the 5th Circuit ruling is “a testament that we are on the right side of the law and life,” The Associated Press reported.
Texas Right to Life says that the Heartbeat Act saves approximately 100 lives from abortion per day.
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