Acting on a suit brought by the Joe Biden administration, U.S. District Court Judge Robert Pitman has blocked the new Texas law that uses the prospect of private lawsuits to enforce a ban on abortions after about six weeks of pregnancy, issuing a a preliminary injunction that immediately forbids Texas state court judges and clerks to accept suits under the law, known as S.B. 8, reports Politico.
The judge said he was particularly troubled by the design of the Texas statute, which was crafted to make it difficult for abortion rights advocates to challenge because of the lack of direct enforcement by state officials or prosecutors.
Lawyers for Texas had asked Pitman to stay his ruling if he granted the federal request to enjoin the law, but he declined to allow such a delay. Texas filed a notice appealing the decision to the New Orleans-based 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, with the outcome of that appeal likely to wind up at the Supreme Court within weeks.
The decision might also scramble efforts in Florida, South Dakota and several other states to pass copycat laws. Some clinics might still be hesitant to resume offering abortions after six weeks of pregnancy, since a provision in the Texas law would allow them to be sued for abortions performed when an injunction is in effect if the law is later reinstated by a higher court.