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A federal judge just issued an order to block the oppressive abortion ban in Texas

United States District Judge Robert Pitman granted a request from the Justice Department to block the ban.

A federal judge just issued an order to block the oppressive abortion ban in Texas
Image Source: Pro-Choice And Anti-Abortion Protestors Rally At U.S. Supreme Court. WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 04. (Photo by Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)

After weeks of organizing, a federal judge passed an order on Wednesday blocking an oppressive ban on abortions past six weeks in the state of Texas. United States District Judge Robert Pitman passed the decision, granting a request from the Justice Department, which brought on the lawsuit. His order will effectively inhibit any officer of the state, including state court judges and court clerks, from enforcing the ban. While this is a victory for pro-choice activists across the country, it may only be a temporary win. Texas clinics that offer abortions post six weeks may be liable if the order is lifted in the future, CNN reports.


"From the moment SB 8 went into effect, women have been unlawfully prevented from exercising control over their lives in ways that are protected by the Constitution," Judge Pitman affirmed in his decision. "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." In his order, he explicitly prohibits officers of the state from "accepting or docketing, maintaining, hearing, resolving, awarding damages in, enforcing judgments in, enforcing any administrative penalties in, and administering any lawsuit" brought under the state law. Attorney General Merrick Garland of the Justice Department celebrated the temporary win, noting in a statement that "today's ruling enjoining the Texas law is a victory for women in Texas and for the rule of law." "It is the foremost responsibility of the Department of Justice to defend the Constitution," he announced. "We will continue to protect constitutional rights against all who would seek to undermine them."


However, the order has come as a major blow to anti-abortion activists in Texas. Texas Right to Life, an anti-abortion group expressed support for the ban in the Texas Legislature, called the ruling "wildly broad" and "astonishing" in its "effort to obstruct state judges and court clerks from fulfilling their lawful duties." The organization said in a statement, "Until a higher court intervenes, the disappointing reality is that Pitman's ruling will likely stop the Texas Heartbeat Act from being enforced." In this context, it took Texas just more than an hour to indicate that it would be appealing the Judge's order to the 5th US Court of Appeals. The 5th US Court of Appeals, considered one of the most conservative in the nation, has previously rejected a request to block the law, as did the US Supreme Court.


Meanwhile, some healthcare clinics in the state have announced that they would begin offering abortions to those past six weeks. Whole Woman's Health, an organization that runs several clinics in Texas, is one of them. Unfortunately, they may be legally liable for abortions performed while the ban is temporarily blocked as the order may later be reversed in court. Nonetheless, pro-choice activists are hopeful. Alexis McGill Johnson, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, stated, "While this fight is far from over, we are hopeful that the court's order blocking SB 8 will allow Texas abortion providers to resume services as soon as possible."


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