A federal appeals court on Thursday handed the Biden Department of Justice another legal defeat in its bid to halt Texas’ heartbeat abortion ban.
The U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, in a 2-1 decision, denied the Department of Justice’s request to block the law, which prohibits an abortion if an unborn baby’s heartbeat is detected. Typically, a heartbeat can be detected around six weeks of pregnancy.
The three-judge panel, in a one-page ruling, extended its previous temporary stay on a lower court’s decision that had sided with the Biden administration.
“We are excited to continue saving hundreds of lives through the Texas Heartbeat Act,” said Kimberlyn Schwartz, director of media and communication for Texas Right to Life. “However, the battle is not finished. We expect the Biden administration to appeal to the Supreme Court of the U.S., and we are confident Texas will ultimately defeat these attacks on our life-saving efforts.”
Great news! The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals just followed up on their ruling from last week and once again allowed the Texas Heartbeat Act to remain in effect!— Texas Right to Life (Text ProLife to 40237) (@TXRightToLife) October 15, 2021
Join our list: Text PROLIFE to 40237#ProLife #RightToLifehttps://t.co/54pfQZVqw2
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton called it a “victory for life.”
The law was blocked by U.S. District Judge Robert Pitman on Oct. 6 until the Fifth Circuit, two days later, put an administrative stay on Pitman’s decision. Thursday’s decision extends that stay at least until the appeals court panel hears oral arguments in the case the week of Dec. 6.
Pitman was nominated by President Obama. The two Fifth Circuit judges in the majority, James C. Ho and Catharina Haynes, were nominated by Presidents Trump and George W. Bush, respectively. Judge Carl E. Stewart, who was nominated by President Clinton, dissented.
The case is United States of America v. State of Texas.
Opponents of the law have struggled to challenge it due to its unique structure. The law gives sole enforcement power to citizens, who are allowed to sue abortion doctors in violation of the ban.
The U.S. Supreme Court previously refused to block the law, which went into effect on Sept. 1.
Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/September15
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.