Judge Sets Oct. 1 Hearing to Consider Justice Department’s Request to Temporarily Block Texas’ Near-Total Abortion Ban
A federal judge on Wednesday scheduled a hearing for Oct. 1 to consider temporarily blocking Texas’ near-total abortion ban, following an emergency request from the Biden administration.
The Justice Department requested the temporary restraining order late Tuesday as part of its lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas aiming to overturn the law.
Instead of immediately acting on the request, U.S. District Judge Robert L. Pitman agreed to the state’s request to hear arguments before ruling. If the restraining order is granted, the law’s implementation will be blocked as court proceedings unfold.
The law will have been in effect for one month by the time the hearing is held. The statute outlaws abortions once fetal cardiac activity is detected — which can occur before many people know they’re pregnant. Texas abortion clinics worked until the last minute to finish procedures before the deadline and canceled future appointments. Some have even stopped offering abortions that are still allowed under the law, for fear of being sued.
No court has yet reviewed the constitutionality of the law because of the way it was written. State officials and state and local law enforcement agencies are not allowed to enforce the restrictions; instead the statute relies on private citizens to file lawsuits against anyone who may help a person get an abortion that is illegal under the law. Earlier this month, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to block the law from going into effect, citing procedural difficulties but not addressing its constitutionality.