AUSTIN, Texas — The U.S. Department of Justice finished making its arguments to block the enforcement of a new law in Texas that bans most abortions. Now, the lawyers are waiting for the federal judge to make his decision.
Lawyers with the U.S. Department of Justice made their arguments before U.S. District Judge Robert Pitman in Austin on Friday. While the lawyers wait on the decision in a lawsuit that was filed against the State of Texas, they are asking the judge to issue a temporary restraining order or a preliminary injunction that would prevent the law from being enforced.
The hearing has wrapped up, but it's not clear when Judge Pitman could make a decision on the Friday hearing.
Julie Murray, senior staff attorney at Planned Parenthood Federation of America, sent KVUE a statement following the hearing:
"S.B. 8 is a blatantly unconstitutional law that never should have been allowed to take effect. For one month, Texans have been unconscionably denied their constitutional right to access abortion forcing them to either carry unwanted pregnancies to term or flee the state to seek basic health care. We remain grateful to the U.S. Department of Justice for vigorously working to fight this law and hope the courts move swiftly to block it so we can restore critical access on the ground."
Amy Hegstrom Miller, the founder of Whole Woman's Health, sent a statement mirroring the one from Planned Parenthood:
"Today, SB 8 has officially been in effect for 30 days and its impact has been devastating. We are hopeful that today's hearing will end in a victorious ruling to block this cruel ban and allow Texans to once again receive the full scope of abortion care services they've come to count on. Our clinic staff have been doing everything they can to help and support as many people as possible, yet every day we are forced to turn away the majority of patients. We hope the court steps in to curb the damage that is being done to Texans who want and deserve quality, compassionate abortion care."
Kimberlyn Schwartz, Texas Right to Life director of media and communication, sent KVUE the following:
"Ultimately, the Justice Department is asking the court to toss out all logic and judicial precedent in order to cater to the abortion industry. The Biden administration’s case is desperate and farfetched, and we expect an impartial court to declare the lawsuit without merit."
In an interview after the hearing, the executive director of Texas Alliance for Life echoed the message from Texas Right to Life.
"Every day the law is in effect is a victory for us," Joe Pojman, Ph.D, said. "We think it's a victory for the unborn child, and we think it's also a good thing for the women who might be seeking abortions because they thought they had no alternatives. There are alternatives."
According to The Associated Press, it's also not clear how quickly abortion clinics in Texas would resume abortion operations if the judge ruled in the Justice Department's favor. It's expected that Texas would quickly appeal.
In the lawsuit previously filed against Texas, the Justice Department said, “It is settled constitutional law that ‘a State may not prohibit any woman from making the ultimate decision to terminate her pregnancy before viability.’” The lawsuit continues, “But Texas has done just that.”
Texas' abortion law, which took effect Sept. 1, bans most abortions in the state, the most restrictive abortion law in the U.S. Senate Bill 8, deemed the "Heartbeat Act," bans abortions when cardiac activity can be detected in a fetus. That typically happens when a woman is six weeks pregnant, and before most women learn they are pregnant.
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