US Court of Appeals allows Texas to temporarily appeal abortion law

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — A federal appeals court Friday evening allowed Texas to resume temporarily banning most abortions, just a day after clinics across the state began rushing to serve patients again for the first time since early September.

Texas abortion providers were preparing for the Fifth U.S. Court of Appeals to act quickly, even as they booked new appointments and reopened their doors during a short delay in a law known as Senate Bill 8, which bans abortions once cardiac activity is detected, usually about six weeks.

On Wednesday, US District Judge Robert Pittman, appointed by President Barack Obama, issued an order suspending a Texas law he called an “abusive denial” of the constitutional right to abortion. It came in response to a lawsuit brought by the Biden administration, which warned that other GOP-controlled states might rush to take similar action.

But the New Orleans-based Court of Appeals quickly granted Texas’ request to overturn Pittman’s order for now while the case is being reviewed. The Justice Department ordered a response by Tuesday.

Texas had nearly two dozen abortion clinics before the law went into effect on September 1, and not all of Texas’ abortion providers resumed services while they were suspended. Many doctors were afraid of a swift retreat from the Court of Appeal, which risked putting them back in legal danger.

The new law threatens Texas abortion providers with lawsuits from private citizens, who would be entitled to charge at least $10,000 in compensation if successful. This new approach is the reason the courts did not block the law prior to Bateman’s ruling, because the state plays no role in enforcing the restrictions.

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