Texas Abortion “Bounty” Law Blocked by Federal Judge … for Now
Written by Stacie Murphy, Director of Congressional Relations | Published: October 7, 2021
Late yesterday, U.S. District Court Judge Robert Pitman issued an order temporarily blocking enforcement of Texas’s new abortion “bounty” law. The law, which the United States Supreme Court allowed to go into effect on September 1, bans abortion after the point at which cardiac activity can be detected—typically about six weeks into pregnancy. Under the now-enjoined law, anyone who has reason to suspect an abortion has occurred after that point can sue anyone they believe was involved—with the exception of the patient themself.
Pitman issued his order in response to a lawsuit from the Biden administration, which filed suit on September 9, arguing that the law violates the U.S. Constitution. In the wake of the ruling, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki released the following statement:
Tonight’s ruling is an important step forward toward restoring the constitutional rights of women across the state of Texas. S.B. 8 not only blatantly violates the right to safe and legal abortion established under Roe v. Wade, but it creates a scheme to allow private citizens to interfere with that right and to evade judicial review.
The fight has only just begun, both in Texas and in many states across this country where women’s rights are currently under attack. That’s why the President supports codifying Roe v. Wade, why he has directed a whole-of-government response to S.B. 8, and why he will continue to stand side-by-side with women across the country to protect their constitutional rights.
Psaki is certainly correct. The state of Texas has already indicated it will file an emergency appeal of the stay to the notoriously conservative 5th Circuit Court of Appeals. Regardless of whether or not the stay is granted, the losing side will certainly ask for a hearing on the law’s merits. Such legal maneuvering will likely take months. There is no doubt that the case will eventually make its way back to the Supreme Court.
Last night’s decision is unquestionably good news. But it’s equally clear that it’s only another step on what’s going to be a long road.