Texas’ anti-abortion law has been reinstated after one day suspension

The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans has reinstated Texas’ controversial anti-abortion law, one day after it was paused.

Senate Bill 8 (SB8) – a law that outright bans women from receiving abortions after six weeks (even in cases of incest and rape) – was challenged by US District Judge Robert Pitman (appointed by former President Barack Obama) last Wednesday. Pitman slammed the ruling, citing it as a serious breach on a woman’s constitutional right.

“From the moment SB8 went into effect, women have been unlawfully prevented from exercising control over their lives in ways that are protected by the Constitution,” Pitman wrote in his 113-page ruling.

Senate Bill 8
Image: Montinique Monroe/The New York Times/Redux/Eyevine

“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.”

At the same time, Pitman also used his challenge as an opportunity to attack the culture of “vigilantism and bounty hunting” the law created. According to SB8, anyone is allowed to sue people who assist in abortions – at any stage of the process.

If the plaintiff is successful in their case, they’ll be given $10,000 USD.

“The state created a private cause of action by which individuals with no personal interest in, or connection to, a person seeking an abortion would be incentivized to use the state’s judicial system, judges, and court officials to interfere with the right to an abortion,” wrote Pitman.

“Rather than subjecting its law to judicial review under the Constitution, the state deliberately circumvented the traditional process.”

Pitman’s efforts allowed abortions clinics to reopen their doors for the first time since the beginning of September.

When speaking to ABC News, the president of Whole Woman’s Health (a women’s health company that runs four abortion clinics in Texas), Amy Hagstrom Miller, revealed her clinics had some patients arrive in the early hours of Thursday morning for treatment. All this was done in the chance “the law was blocked at some point”.

Despite this, “some of the clinics’ 17 doctors” refused to perform abortions for fear of the legal consequences.

Whole Woman's Health
Photo: Tony Gutierrez/AP/FILE

“Patients are being thrown back into a state of chaos and fear, and this cruel law is falling hardest on those who already face discriminatory obstacles in health…” said Nancy Northup, the president of the Center for Reproductive Rights.

“The courts have an obligation to block laws that violate fundamental rights.”

Reportedly, some women have been forced to drive for hours across state lines to receive treatment in neighbouring states.

SB8 has received intense backlash from the Biden administration and women across the United States. In recent weeks, marches crowded the streets of major cities with demonstrators calling for the law to be abolished.

Likewise, on September 2, 2021, President Biden vowed he would use the full weight of the government to bring down “Texas’ bizarre scheme of outsourced enforcement to private parties”.

Currently, it is feared that abortion clinics in Texas will be forced to close.