Texas Abortion Law Back In Effect After Latest Court Ruling

by Kristina Johnson
Jeremy Hogan/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

The legal fight over the new Texas abortion law is far from over

The draconian abortion law passed in Texas last month is now back in effect, for now — just two days after an injunction briefly paused it. That injunction itself has now been put on hold by the Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

While the injunction was in effect, lifting the law passed back on September 1, some clinics immediately reopened their doors to help women exercise their right to choose — the one guaranteed by Roe v. Wade. “Women have been unlawfully prevented from exercising control over their own lives in ways that are protected by the Constitution,” the judge, Robert Pitman, behind the 113-page ruling wrote. “This Court will not sanction one more day of this offensive deprivation of such an important right.”

But it didn’t take long for another ruling to come along and bring things back to the horrifying status quo. While it’s temporary — what’s called an “administrative stay” — legal experts are largely in agreement that the Fifth U.S. Circuit Court’s final ruling will be the same, according to the New York Times.

It’s a lot to keep straight, but it comes down to this: right now, pregnant people in Texas once again cannot get an abortion after six weeks — a time frame so brief that many might not even realize they’re pregnant before they no longer have any options.

Anyone who does seek out an abortion after that point, no matter what the circumstances are, faces incredibly harsh penalties. The law lets private citizens effectively serve as bounty hunters by giving them the power to sue anyone involved in abortion in any capacity (the patient, the doctor, even the insurer) for at least $10,000 in civil damages.

It seems all but a certainty at this point that the fight will eventually make its way to the Supreme Court one way or another — putting reproductive right in the hands of a 6 – 3 conservative majority. The court already had a chance to stop the law from going into effect in the first place, and declined to do so — which many pro-choice advocates fear doesn’t bode well for the future.

The Department of Justice, which brought the challenge currently making its way through Texas courts, now has until Tuesday evening to respond to the latest ruling — and vulnerable pregnant people not just in Texas but all over the country will surely be watching and waiting to see what happens next.