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Texas Six-Week Abortion Ban Reinstated By Federal Appeals Court

A federal appeals court has temporarily reinstated a Texas law that bans abortions as early as six weeks into a pregnancy.

The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, which is considered the most conservative federal appeals court in the country, granted the state’s request for a temporary halt to a lower court order blocking enforcement of the law.

The U.S. Justice Department has been given until Oct. 12 to respond.

The temporary stay on the lower court ruling is slated to be in effect until then.

Brigitte Amiri, the deputy director of the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project, called the ruling “deeply alarming” because it will allow Texas’ abortion ban to go back into effect “at a time when abortion providers were quickly starting to resume abortion care” for patients who are further along than six weeks into their pregnancy.

“Today’s order means that the havoc that this law has created is allowed to restart,” she said. “Make no mistake: The devastating impacts of this ban will be just as bad this time around. We hope the case moves swiftly so the law can be halted again.”

Besides being one of the most restrictive abortion laws in the country, SB 8 was also uniquely designed to evade court action.

Texas lawmakers drafted the law to be enforced by private citizens rather than state agencies. SB 8 allows anyone — including people who don’t live in Texas — to sue someone they believe provided an abortion after six weeks.

It also holds anyone liable who “aids or abets” someone who gets the procedure after that limit. The law offers a minimum of $10,000 in damages for a successful lawsuit.

Since the law took effect on Sept. 1, many clinics have stopped all abortion services or have adhered to the strict limit. Amy Hagstrom Miller, the CEO and founder of Whole Woman’s Health, recently told reporters her staff has been living with the fear of being sued.

“These folks don’t have attorneys or funds to hire attorneys,” she said. “Many of our physicians have opted out of providing care while SB 8 is in effect; it being just too risky for them to do so.”

The Supreme Court was asked to intervene shortly before the law went into effect, but justices declined. Abortion providers petitioned the court again, but it has yet to respond.

 

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