Justice Department Seeks To Stop Enforcement Of TX Abortion Law

Justice Department Seeks To Stop Enforcement Of TX Abortion Law AUSTIN, TX — The Department of Justice has asked a federal court in Texas to stop the enforcement of the state’s new abortion law while it decides the case.

Senate Bill 8, also known as SB8, prohibits abortions once medical professionals can detect cardiac activity — usually around six weeks, before some women know they’re pregnant.

The bill took effect on Sept. 1 after the Supreme Court declined an emergency appeal from abortion providers asking that the law be stayed. As a result, the law became the most restrictive legislation on abortions in the country.

The Associated Press reports the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas, Austin Division, issued an emergency order Tuesday night. The case was assigned to U.S. District Judge Robert Pitman.

The Justice Department said “a court may enter a temporary restraining order or a preliminary injunction as a means of preventing harm to the movant before the court can fully adjudicate the claims in dispute.”

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Last week, the Justice Department filed a lawsuit in Texas asking a federal judge to declare that the law is invalid because it was enacted “in open defiance of the Constitution.”

AP reports the department made a similar argument in seeking the restraining order or temporary injunction and said that its challenge would likely be successful.

“When other States have enacted laws abridging reproductive rights to the extent that S.B. 8 does, courts have enjoined enforcement of the laws before they could take effect,” the department said. “In an effort to avoid that result, Texas devised an unprecedented scheme that seeks to deny women and providers the ability to challenge S.B. 8 in federal court. This attempt to shield a plainly unconstitutional law from review cannot stand.”

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Under the state’s new abortion law, someone could bring a lawsuit — even if they have no connection to the woman getting an abortion — and could be entitled to at least $10,000 in damages if they prevail in court.

Abortion providers have said they will comply, but already some of Texas’ roughly two dozen abortion clinics have temporarily stopped offering abortion services altogether. Clinics in neighboring states, meanwhile, have seen a surge in patients from Texas.

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