State Watch

Judge schedules Oct. 1 hearing on DOJ request to halt Texas abortion law

The Department of Justice logo is seen at their headquarters in Washington, D.C., on Thursday, August 5, 2021 prior to a press conference regarding a civil rights matter.
Greg Nash

A federal judge on Wednesday scheduled an Oct. 1 hearing to consider the Department of Justice’s request to temporarily block a recently enacted Texas law that effectively bans abortions after about six weeks of pregnancy.

The scheduling comes just a day after the Justice Department filed an emergency motion to stop the law from being enforced in the state, arguing that it prevented “women from exercising their constitutional rights.”

Rather than act on the Biden administration’s request to freeze the law, U.S. District Judge Robert L. Pitman will instead hear arguments prior to issuing a decision at the request of the state, The Texas Tribune reported.

Texas has until Sept. 29 to make its case opposing the DOJ request, and then the department may respond before Oct. 1.

Pitman’s decision to hear arguments means the law will have been in force for at least a month — and will remain in place at least until the judge, an Obama appointee, issues his decision on the DOJ’s request.

Renae Eze, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s (R) press secretary, said they were “confident that the courts will uphold and protect that right to life.”

“The most precious freedom is life itself. Texas passed a law that ensures that the life of every child with a heartbeat will be spared from the ravages of abortion,” Eze said in statement to The Hill on Thursday. “Unfortunately, President Biden and his Administration are more interested in changing the national narrative from their disastrous Afghanistan evacuation and reckless open border policies instead of protecting the innocent unborn.”

The Hill has reached out to the Justice Department for comment.

Earlier this month, the Supreme Court declined to block the Texas abortion law, which prohibits the medical procedure after a “fetal heartbeat” is detected, which can often occur before a woman knows she is pregnant.

The law is unique in that it allows private citizens to file a lawsuit against people suspected of performing or helping someone receiving the procedure. Those individuals can be awarded $10,000 for each time they successfully sue.

Updated on Thursday at 12:47 p.m.

Tags Greg Abbott Joe Biden Texas Texas abortion law
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