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Federal Judge Will Consider Temporarily Blocking Texas Abortion Ban

Houston Women's Reproductive Services is the latest abortion clinic to open in Texas.
Gabriel C. Pérez
File photo: Houston Women's Reproductive Services was the latest abortion clinic to open in Texas in June 2019.

A federal judge in Texas on Wednesday agreed to consider blocking the enforcement of a new Texas law banning abortions after about six weeks.

In his order, Judge Robert Pitman set a preliminary injunction hearing for Oct. 1, where he’ll hear arguments over whether the implementation of Senate Bill 8 should be put on hold pending a ruling on its constitutionality.

The Justice Department filed a lawsuit against the state last week after the U.S. Supreme Court allowed SB 8 to go into effect. The law bans abortions after cardiac activity is detected, and allows private citizens to sue anyone who performs or helps someone access an abortion. If successful, that plaintiff could be awarded $10,000 or more.

Two weeks ago, a Travis County judge granted a temporary restraining order to three Texas Planned Parenthood affiliates, blocking anti-abortion group Texas Right To Life from suing those providers under the new law.

Anti-abortion groups have slammed the DOJ’s suit, with Texas Right to Life calling it a “desperate move.”

In a statement before the ruling, Helene Krasnoff, vice president for public policy litigation and law for Planned Parenthood, called an injunction a “welcome step forward.”

“For two weeks now, Texans have been forced to either cross state lines for care or carry a pregnancy against their will,” the statement read. “They need relief now.”

Additional reporting by Sara Willa Ernst.
This story was produced by Houston Public Media.

Paul DeBenedetto | Houston Public Media
Lucio Vasquez | Houston Public Media