A federal judge temporarily blocked Texas’ new abortion law in a ruling on Wednesday, wire services reported.
Bloomberg News described the ruling as a preliminary victory for the Biden administration as it seeks to overturn the Lone Star State’s controversial new law, considered the strictes legislation of its kind in the country.
District Judge Robert Pitman’s decision in an Austin, Texas, courtroom means that for the time being, Texas medical professionals can once again offer abortions even after about six weeks of pregnancy without fear of being sued by members of the public.
That latter provision, essentially offering bounties to people who successfully sue anyone assisting a woman in obtaining an illegal abortion, is what has greatly distinguished the Texas law from those so far attempted in other states.
The Texas measure also defines a viable, non-abortable pregnancy as one occurring after a baby’s heartbeat is detected. That usually occurs around the sixth week of pregnancy, and opponents of the law have attempted to argue that many women don’t even realize they are pregnant by this point in time.
Texas is likely to challenge the ruling issued on Wednesday, Bloomberg said. Further, the news service noted, it is not unusual for a federal appellate court to stay an injunction.
Ultimately, the case is expected to wind up before the U.S. Supreme Court, which declined to weigh in and pause the measure as Texas was enacting it. Many legal experts believe the high court, with its 6-3 conservative majority on the bench, is open to re-examining abortion precedent. Specifially, it’s expected to take a new look at the landmark case of Roe v. Wade that set a precedent for the legality of abortion.
The Justice Department, authorized by the White House to challenge the Texas law, argued that it should be kept on pause while the case plays out, as woman are already being dramatically affected by its enactment. Many are traveling long distances to try to get abortions in neighboring states.
The case is being watched by other GOP-dominated states as a potential model for future legislation.
As Bloomberg noted, the statute has drawn particular scrutiny and interest because it outsources enforcement to private citizens, empowering them to sue doctors or anyone else suspected of violating the ban — that could potentially include such people as ride-sharing drivers who take women to clinics — and to seek compensation of at least $10,000 per procedure.
Newsmax wires contributed to this report.