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October 8, 2021

Federal Judge Temporarily Blocks Texas Heartbeat Act

On Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Robert Pitman issued a preliminary injunction blocking the enforcement of the Texas Heartbeat Act.

The Texas law protects unborn babies with detectable heartbeats from abortion. This meant that after the law came into effect on Sept. 1, it was illegal in Texas to abort a baby once it reached roughly six weeks gestation. The Heartbeat Act was initially able to survive legal challenges due to its unique enforcement mechanism. Individuals could file civil lawsuits against those who violated the law. This is different from most other pro-life laws that have been struck down because those are enforced directly by a state government.

Judge Pitman's decision came as a response to a lawsuit filed by the Biden administration. In his ruling, Pitman called the pro-life law an “unprecedented and aggressive scheme to deprive its citizens of a significant and well-established constitutional right.”

The Supreme Court decided in September that it would not block the Heartbeat Act, but it did so for procedural reasons. Because of this, the Supreme Court could very well make a ruling on the constitutionality of laws like the Heartbeat Act in the future.

The Texas Attorney General's office has already expressed its intent to appeal Judge Pitman's decision.

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