On Wednesday night a federal judge blocked the Texas Heartbeat Act after Attorney General Merrick Garland announced the lawsuit last month. The ruling not only denied the state’s request to pause the ruling pending appeal, US District Judge Robert Pitman, appointed by President Barack Obama, also had the strongest of words with his ruling.
NOW: A federal judge has blocked enforcement of SB 8, Texas’s 6-week abortion ban, and denied Texas’s request to pause his ruling pending appeal.
— Zoe Tillman (@ZoeTillman) October 7, 2021
Pitman’s ruling is close to 113 pages long. His introduction refers to the now blocked law as “flagrantly unconstitutional,” a term he also uses later in his decision. As it reads:
A person’s right under the Constitution to choose to obtain an abortion prior to fetal viability is well established. With full knowledge that depriving its citizens of this right by direct state action would be flagrantly unconstitutional, the State contrived an unprecedented and transparent statutory scheme whereby it created a private cause of action in which private citizens with no personal interest in or connection to a person seeking an abortion would be able to interfere with that right using the state’s judicial system, judges, and court officials. Rather than challenging the right to abortion via the appropriate process of judicial review, the State went so far as to draft the law in such a way as to attempt to preclude a review of the constitutionality of the statute by federal courts who have responsibility to safeguard the very rights the statute likely violates.
Pitman’s language towards the end of the decision was certainly an attention grabber, as he slammed what he called “offensive deprivation of such an important right,” as he said the state “forfeited the right” to its requests:
Finally, the State has requested, in the event the Court preliminarily enjoins enforcement of S.B. 8, that the Court stay any injunction until the State has the opportunity to seek appellate review. The State has forfeited the right to any such accommodation by pursuing an unprecedented and aggressive scheme to deprive its citizens of a significant and well-established constitutional right. 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. 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.
Like many in the woke, pro-abortion crowd, Judge Pitman uses the term “person” and “pregnant person” at times when referencing women having abortions.
It’s also worth noting that Pitman never refers to the now blocked law as SB 8 and “fetal heartbeat” only in quotations. The formal title of the legislation, “The Texas Heartbeat Act,” is not used.
This is another common tactic for those afraid to humanize preborn children. In her piece for BuzzFeed, Zoe Tillman only referred to “fetal cardiac activity” and likewise only described it as SB, never using its name.
It’s not necessarily clear what happens next. As Tillman wrote:
The immediate effect of US District Judge Robert Pitman’s ruling — and whether it will mean that providers can, or will, resume performing abortions — is uncertain. Texas is expected to swiftly petition the US Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit to intervene and ask that court to put Pitman’s order on hold as quickly as possible, which would leave the law, SB 8, in place.
This decision comes 7 weeks after the U.S. Supreme Court allowed the law to go into effect on September 1. Shortly thereafter the Court released an unsigned opinion detailing their 5-4 decision, emphasizing it was decided as a procedural matter rather than the merits.