The pro-life community in Texas won another legal battle Friday when a federal appeals court ruled the state’s heartbeat abortion ban could be enforced while the judges considered an emergency motion.
The U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, in an opinion by a three-judge panel, placed a stay on a lower court ruling from two days earlier that had blocked the law.
The law in question prohibits abortions if an unborn baby’s heartbeat is detected. The law is unique in that it grants the sole power of enforcement to the state’s citizens. Enforcement involves lawsuits against those who violate the law.
Technically, the order by the Fifth Circuit is only temporary. In the next few days, the judges will either extend the order or will side with the district court in blocking the law.
The three-judge panel, in a one-page decision, wrote that the “motion for a temporary administrative stay pending the court’s consideration of the emergency motion is granted.” The court ordered the Biden Department of Justice to issue its reply by Tuesday at 5 p.m.
The makeup of the panel could benefit the pro-life community. The three-judge panel is comprised of nominees of President Trump (Judge James C. Ho), President George W. Bush (Judge Catharina Haynes) and President Clinton (Judge Carl E. Stewart). In August, Ho and Haynes sided with other Fifth Circuit justices in upholding Texas’ ban on a common second-trimester abortion procedure.
The pro-life community celebrated the order.
“This is an answered prayer,” said Kimberlyn Schwartz of Texas Right to Life. “The Texas Heartbeat Act saves approximately 100 lives from abortion per day, and we’re grateful that this tremendous impact will continue. We expect the Biden administration to appeal to the Supreme Court of the U.S., and we are confident Texas will continue to defeat these attacks on our life-saving efforts.”
Carol Tobias, president of National Right to Life, tweeted, “Unborn babies are unique and irreplaceable human beings. Those with a beating heart are again protected in Texas.”
The Fifth Circuit’s decision placed a temporary injunction on a decision by U.S. District Judge Robert Pitman, a nominee of President Barack Obama who had blocked the law by ruling that a “person’s right under the Constitution to choose to obtain an abortion prior to fetal viability is well established.”
Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Olga Kurbatova
Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.