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October 11, 2021

Appeals Court Reinstates Texas Heartbeat Act

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R)
Last Wednesday, a district judge placed a temporary injunction against the enforcement of the Texas Heartbeat Act. On Friday night, however, a three-judge panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals granted an administrative stay against that order. As a result, the Heartbeat Act can once again be enforced.

The Texas Heartbeat Act requires abortion businesses to first perform an ultrasound to confirm whether an unborn child has a detectable heartbeat. If a heartbeat is found (which is generally true for babies by the time they reach the sixth week of development), then aborting that child is prohibited. The law includes an exception for medical emergencies.

Except for two days following last week's temporary injunction, the Heartbeat Act has remained an enforceable law since it came into effect on Sept. 1. This is due to the law's unique method of enforcement. Rather than being enforced directly by the state, the Heartbeat Act gives individuals the ability to file civil lawsuits against those who violate the law.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton appealed the district court's injunction last Friday, after which the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals quickly granted the administrative stay.

“Great news tonight,” Paxton tweeted in response to the decision. “The Fifth Circuit has granted an administrative stay on #SB8. I will fight federal overreach at every turn.”

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