Late Wednesday evening, federal judge Robert Pitman temporarily blocked Senate Bill 8, the extreme anti-abortion bill that went into effect in Texas on September 1. In his injunction, Pitman offered a scathing rebuttal to the Supreme Court for allowing SB 8 to stand.
SB 8 is essentially a six-week abortion ban, and it also allows virtually anyone to sue somebody who aids or abets an abortion. The law has already had catastrophic consequences in Texas, and abortion clinics in surrounding states are reporting an influx of Texans seeking care.
While abortion providers praised the ruling last night, many were cautious about whether abortion services would resume in Texas. A clause in SB 8 specifically cites that an abortion provider could be liable for a procedure during a period when the legislation is overruled or blocked from enforcement.
In a statement, Planned Parenthood Federation of America CEO Alexis McGill Johnson noted Pitman’s ruling was just the first step in a long legal process. “While this fight is far from over, we are hopeful that the court’s order blocking S.B. 8 will allow Texas abortion providers to resume services as soon as possible,” said Johnson. “Planned Parenthood providers across the country have reported serving Texas patients, who are heartbroken and furious that they’ve needed to leave home for essential health care — often at great expense. Planned Parenthood will continue fighting this ban in court, until we are certain that Texans’ ability to access abortion is protected.”
Reaction about Pitman’s ruling also came nationwide. Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, who co-authored an amicus brief with fellow AGs about SB 8, also released a statement after the temporary injunction. “This law is creating dangerous public health and economic ripple effects nationwide,” said Healey. “Massachusetts will not abandon vulnerable people and their families. We will continue to defend Roe, abortion providers, and patients from these egregious and unconstitutional attacks.”
Texas has appealed Pitman’s ruling to the Fifth Circuit.
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