State Sen. Bryan Hughes says he believes a federal judge’s order blocking Texas’ new abortion law will be overturned by an appeals court.
On Wednesday evening, U.S. District Judge Robert Pitman suspended the law known as Senate Bill 8, which since early September had banned abortions once cardiac activity is detected, usually around six weeks.
Hughes, R-Mineola, is the author of SB 8.
The Texas law leaves enforcement solely up to private citizens, who are entitled to collect $10,000 in damages if they bring successful lawsuits against not just abortion providers who violate the restrictions, but anyone who helps a woman obtain an abortion, the Associated Press reported.
Hughes said Pitman’s ruling orders state judges and clerks not to accept lawsuits under SB 8 but does not affect lawsuits in federal courts.
The state has appealed Pitman’s order to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, and SB 8 was written in light of that court’s past rulings, Hughes said.
“We believe the 5th Circuit will reverse Judge Pitman’s orders and allow the law to fully take effect,” he said.
He added that while it is unknown how long it will take for the appeals court to make a ruling, Hughes believes it will be fairly quickly.
The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is known to be one of the most conservative appellate courts in the country, according to the Texas Tribune.
While SB 8 is temporarily blocked, Hughes said that abortion clinics are still treading carefully in the event that Pitman’s ruling is overturned.
That’s because under that scenario, the law states, “if a court temporarily blocks the statute and that court is later reversed, then any abortions that were done during that time are still illegal and can still be claimed under Senate Bill 8,” Hughes said.
The AP reported that at least six Texas clinics resumed abortion services Thursday or were gearing up to offer them again, said Kelly Krause, spokeswoman for the Center for Reproductive Rights.
There were roughly two dozen abortion clinics in Texas before the law took effect Sept. 1.
In his opinion, Pitman wrote that Republican lawmakers had “contrived an unprecedented and transparent statutory scheme” by trying to evade judicial review, according to the AP.
“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,” wrote Pitman, who was appointed to the bench by former President Barack Obama. “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.”
The lawsuit was brought by the Biden administration, which has said the restrictions were enacted in defiance of the U.S. Constitution, the AP reported.
SB 8 deals with the right to life and a woman’s right to choose, and it was not taken lightly, Hughes said. The issue is the most difficult one dealt with in the Legislature because there are strong feelings attached to it, he added.
Every unborn baby growing in their mother’s womb is deserving of protection, he said.
“Under the heartbeat law, we’re going to protect that baby’s life while we support and love and respect the mother,” Hughes said. “We can do both.”