“We disagree with the Court’s decision and have already taken steps to immediately appeal it to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals,” Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, a Republican, wrote on Twitter Thursday morning. “The sanctity of human life is, and will always be, a top priority for me.”
Within hours of the ruling, Texas notified the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals that it will challenge the judge’s order, setting the stage for the next phase of the legal battle.
U.S. District Court Judge Robert Pitman, an appointee of former President Barack Obama, sided with arguments filed by the Biden administration in blocking enforcement of the law, known as Senate Bill 8. Texas lawmakers, he said, designed a scheme to bypass what he described as constitutional protections for women who are seeking abortions.
The law went into effect on Sept. 1 and bars abortions after around six weeks of pregnancy—or when the embryo’s cardiac activity is detected. The measure, which the U.S. Supreme Court declined to block, gives private individuals the ability to file lawsuits against medical staff who perform abortions or individuals who provide assistance to women who try to terminate their pregnancy after the sixth week.
“From the moment S.B. 8 went into effect, women have been unlawfully prevented from exercising control over their lives in ways that are protected by the Constitution,” Pitman wrote in his order. “That other courts may find a way to avoid this conclusion is theirs to decide; this Court will not sanction one more day of this offensive deprivation of such an important right.”
Pro-life group Texas Right to Life reacted to the ruling late on Wednesday night, saying it was “not surprised” by Pitman’s ruling.
“This is the legacy of Roe v. Wade: Judges catering to the abortion industry, crafting a conclusion first & then searching the depths of legal literature for a rationale later,” the organization said on Twitter, referring to the landmark Supreme Court decision. “Pro-Life attorneys are expected to appeal the decision immediately, in which we expect a fair hearing,” it continued.
The Biden Department of Justice sued Texas about a week after the law went into effect, on Sept. 9, and sought a temporary injunction against the law.
Several top Biden administration officials praised Pitman’s ruling, including Attorney General Merrick Garland—who said it was a “victory for women in Texas.
“Tonight’s ruling is an important step forward toward restoring the constitutional rights of women across the state of Texas,” White House press secretary Psaki said in a statement Wednesday. “The fight has only just begun, both in Texas and in many states across this country where women’s rights are currently under attack,” she continued to say.