Federal judge temporarily blocks Texas’ abortion ban

The most restrictive anti-abortion legislation in the U.S., SB 8 bans almost all abortions after 6 weeks of pregnancy, even in cases of sexual assault, rape, and abuse. The ruling blocks enforcement of SB 8 temporarily and it is unclear how long it will be in effect.

A federal judge issued an order Wednesday that temporarily blocks enforcement of Senate Bill 8 (SB 8). The most restrictive anti-abortion legislation in the U.S., SB 8 bans almost all abortions after 6 weeks of pregnancy, even in cases of sexual assault, rape, and abuse.

In his statement, U.S. District Judge Robert L. Pitman said the state was “pursuing an unprecedented and aggressive scheme to deprive its citizens of a significant and well-established constitutional right.” Since SB 8 went into effect, Pitman said, “women have been unlawfully prevented from exercising control over their lives in ways that are protected by the Constitution.”

The day after the ruling, abortions in at least six Texas clinics resumed, but some providers remain hesitant.1 Planned Parenthood, the state’s largest abortion care provider, is among them.

“We don’t know how quickly the judge’s ruling could get overturned,” said Sarah Wheat, a spokesperson for Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas. “That could come tomorrow. That could come over the weekend. So, if we only have a couple of days where this extreme abortion ban is being blocked that’s not very many patients who are going to be able to access abortions during that short window of time,” Wheat said.2

Planned Parenthood locations in Denver even experienced an increase of 130% in Texas residents seeking abortion care from August to September, with one location seeing an increase of 520%.3

Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains—which includes Colorado, New Mexico, Southern Nevada, and Wyoming—reported a 21-day wait time for appointments at their New Mexico health centers due to such high demand.4

The ruling blocks enforcement of SB 8 temporarily and it is unclear how long it will be in effect. The state has already filed a notice for appeal to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

“We disagree with the Court's decision and have already taken steps to immediately appeal it to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals," Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said on Twitter Thursday morning. "The sanctity of human life is, and will always be, a top priority for me."

References

WEBER PJ. Abortions resume in some Texas clinics after judge halts law. KLBK | KAMC | EverythingLubbock.com. Published October 7, 2021. Accessed October 8, 2021. https://www.everythinglubbock.com/news/health/judge-orders-texas-to-suspend-new-law-banning-most-abortions-2/

Rosemond Crown. Waco Planned Parenthood holds off on abortions as procedures resume across Texas. https://www.kwtx.com. Published October 8, 2021. Accessed October 8, 2021. https://www.kwtx.com/2021/10/08/waco-planned-parenthood-holds-off-abortions-procedures-resume-across-texas/

Irizarry J. A Denver Planned Parenthood has seen a 520% increase in patients from Texas. KUSA.com. Published October 2021. Accessed October 8, 2021. https://www.9news.com/article/news/local/denver-planned-parenthood-increase-in-patients-from-texas/73-db2062d2-b179-4cb5-bcbd-64059b86a984

Planned Parenthood. Plannedparenthood.org. Published 2021. Accessed October 8, 2021. https://www.plannedparenthood.org/planned-parenthood-rocky-mountains/who-we-are