Federal appeals court temporarily reinstates Texas abortion law

Republican Attorney General Ken Paxton had petitioned the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals following a lower court’s ruling to temporarily suspend the ban.
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Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, Orlando, Florida, February 27, 2021.
(Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

A federal appeals court on Friday night temporarily reinstated Texas’ restrictive abortion law, staying a preliminary injunction granted earlier this week by a federal judge who sought to block the law.

The ruling by the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Friday night handed a win to anti-abortion advocates and lawmakers in Texas who have sought to prohibit most abortions six weeks after conception.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton had asked an appeals court earlier in the day to suspend the injunction.

Judge Robert Pitman had issued the temporary block earlier this week, saying Texas forfeited its right to implement this law due to an “unprecedented and aggressive scheme to deprive its citizens of a significant and well-established constitutional right."

Pitman issued his temporary order while the court considers a Justice Department lawsuit that challenges the constitutionality of the Texas abortion law. 

Paxton alleged in his filing that the federal government has no standing to sue the state of Texas, so therefore the lower court’s ruling is moot.

Other states have enacted six-week abortion bans, but the Texas law alone allows private citizens to file lawsuits against those who help a woman obtain an abortion after a fetal heartbeat is detected.