Texas Abortion Row Live Updates: Reaction As Federal Judge Rules to Suspend Controversial Ban

Live Updates

Controversial laws which ban abortions in Texas after six weeks of pregnancy have been suspended by a federal judge who attacked the legislation as "absurd and perverse".

U.S. District Judge Robert Pitman issued a preliminary injunction - a temporary measure that prevents state court judges and clerks in Texas from accepting lawsuits - and blasted the idea that citizens can be "deputized" by the state and be awarded $10,000 for suing people suspected of having an illegal termination.

The restrictive laws, signed in May by Republican Gov. Greg Abbott and put into effect on September 1, prohibits abortions once cardiac activity is detected - before most women know they're pregnant. State Democrats have been working with the Biden administration, which brought the case, to block the laws since.

The live updates for this blog have ended.

Judge calls abortion ban an "offensive deprivation" of rights

In his 113-page opinion, U.S. District Judge Robert Pitman called the Texas abortion ban an "offensive deprivation" of constitutional rights.

"From the moment S.B. 8 went into effect, women have been unlawfully prevented from exercising control over their lives in ways that are protected by the Constitution," he wrote.

"That other courts may find a way to avoid this conclusion is theirs to decide; this Court will not sanction one more day of this offensive deprivation of such an important right."

He added that the Republican lawmakers had "contrived an unprecedented and transparent statutory scheme" by allowing private citizens to enforce the abortion ban in Texas.

Vermont AG praises court ruling on abortion ban

Vermont Attorney General TJ Donovan praised Judge Pitman's ruling to block Texa's abortion ban.

"This is a huge step in the right direction for the fight to protect abortion access," he said in a tweet.

He said he stands in solidarity with other Democratic attorney generals across the country "in fighting against [Texas's] ban on abortion."

"We will not stop, we will not let up, because abortion is healthcare and healthcare is a right," he said.

This is a huge step in the right direction for the fight to protect abortion access.

I am proud to stand with my fellow @DemocraticAGs in fighting against TX’s ban on abortion.

We will not stop, we will not let up, because abortion is healthcare and healthcare is a right. https://t.co/EJPGqKGgI0

— AG TJ Donovan (@TJforVermont) October 7, 2021

Texas Attorney General has "already taken steps" to appeal court ruling

The Texas Attorney General's Office has already moved to appeal Judge Pitman's suspension of the controversial Texas abortion law.

Attorney General Ken Paxton said he "disagrees" with the court's ruling and "has already taken steps to immediately appeal it."

"The sanctity of human life is, and will always be, a top priority for me," Paxton said in a tweet.

We disagree with the Court's decision and have already taken steps to immediately appeal it to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.

The sanctity of human life is, and will always be, a top priority for me.

— Texas Attorney General (@TXAG) October 7, 2021

Legal scholar explains why ruling could be quickly overturned

Steve Vladeck, a legal scholar and expert on the courts at the University of Texas School of Law, cited the appeal to the Fifth Circuit - a notoriously conservative part of the legal system - as to why the decision could be reversed.

In the interim, it's not clear whether providers will resume offering services. One of the many novel provisions in #SB provides that abortions performed while a preliminary injunction is in effect can *still* be a basis for liability if the injunction is later stayed/reversed.

It may also explain why Planned Parenthood refused to confirm that it would restart services in Texas.

FULL STORY: Texas Abortion Ban Injunction Could Be Ineffective and Quickly Overturned

Massachusetts attorney general praises Texas federal judge for ruling

Maura Healey said she was grateful Judge Pitman had blocked a "blatantly unconstitutional scheme to undermine Roe v. Wade".

For weeks, patients in Texas have been forced to travel thousands of miles to nearby states to access safe, legal abortion. They have driven in the dead of night in secret, for fear of bounty hunters chasing their friends and families. Those who cannot afford the trip have been forced into pregnancy by the state of Texas, forever altering the course of their lives.

Healey is one of two dozen attorneys general offering legal support to the Justice Department's push against the Texas law, spearheaded by the Biden administration officials.

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.

Will abortions continue in Texas now restrictions have been suspended?

The ruling allows medical professionals to perform abortions without fear of facing legal repercussions - but it is expected the number of procedures will remain significantly low out of fear of future repercussions.

The ruling is only temporary and the way the law is set out means that if the Court of Appeal decides to reinstate the restrictions, medical staff might face retrospective action in the courts.

Planned Parenthood has so far refused to say whether it will continue normal operations.

Oklahoma judge blocks six-week abortion ban

An Oklahoma judge has also temporarily blocked two new abortion laws from taking effect in November, including one that bans the procedure after six weeks of pregnancy.

Republicans in the state tried to reflect the laws that have just been blocked in Texas, but District Judge Cindy Truong blocked the measures.

She did, however, allow three other laws that restrict medication-induced abortions and require doctors who perform abortions to be board-certified in obstetrics and gynecology.

FULL STORY: Oklahoma Judge Blocks Law Banning Abortion at 6 Weeks, Upholds Restrictions on Pill Abortion

'This fight is far from over': Full statement from ACLU in Texas

Brigitte Amiri, deputy director of the American Civil Liberties Union's Reproductive Freedom Project, told reporters the ruling "offers a sigh of relief" but warned that pro-life campaigners "will stop at nothing" to see the decision overturned.

Though the court's ruling offers a sigh of relief, the threat of Texas' abortion ban still looms over the state as cases continue to move through the courts. We already know the politicians behind this law will stop at nothing until they've banned abortion entirely. This fight is far from over, and we're ready to do everything we can to make sure every person can get the abortion care they need regardless of where they live or how much they make.

Pro-life attorneys 'expected to appeal the decision immediately'

Reacting to the ruling against their campaign, pro-life activists say attorneys sympathetic to their cause will set an appeal in motion "immediately" with an appeal on behalf of the state already filed.

"We expect a fair hearing," Texas Right to Life wrote in a tweet.

Abortion clinics 'hopeful' to resume services but remains unclear

Alexis McGill Johnson, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, did not confirm whether the organization's services would continue in light of the ruling.

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. 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.

Civil liberties campaigners vow to fight until abortion rights 'permanently restored'

The American Civil Liberties Union, a long-standing advocate of the right to abortion, claimed the restrictive laws had "wreaked havoc" on Texans and vowed to "fight until our right to abortion care is permanently restored".

BREAKING: A federal court just issued a preliminary injunction blocking Texas’ near-total abortion ban.#SB8 has wreaked havoc on Texans. We’ll continue to fight until our right to abortion care is permanently restored. pic.twitter.com/6iuTpGWV2H

— ACLU of Texas (@ACLUTx) October 7, 2021

'We are not surprised': Pro-life activists attack federal judge

Texas Right to Life - the state's largest anti-abortion group - took aim at U.S. District Judge Robert Pitman for "catering to the abortion industry".

In later tweets, the organization referred to him as an "Obama-appointed" official.

We are not surprised by Pitman's ruling.

This is the legacy of Roe v. Wade: Judges catering to the abortion industry, crafting a conclusion first & then searching the depths of legal literature for a rationale later. (1)

— Texas Right to Life (Text ProLife to 40237) (@TXRightToLife) October 7, 2021

Planned Parenthood activist group celebrates ruling but warns of SB 8 consequences

Planned Parenthood Texas Votes - the political arm of the three Planned Parenthood affiliates - described the ruling as "good news" but highlighted how Texans have been "forced to travel out of state during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic or denied essential health care".

This is good news, but the harm done by #SB8 in just the past month cannot be ignored.

In the past 35 days, Texans have been forced to travel out of state during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic or denied essential health care.https://t.co/Glj3uZ7rcO

— Planned Parenthood Texas Votes (@PPTXVotes) October 7, 2021

Good morning and welcome to Newsweek's liveblog

Campaigners and politicians are reacting this morning following the ruling to temporarily suspend Texas' abortion laws.

Follow Newsweek's liveblog throughout Thursday for all the latest.