Federal judge blocks Texas restrictive abortion law

AUSTIN – A federal judge late Wednesday temporarily blocked enforcement of a Texas abortion law that effectively bans the procedure, siding with the federal government in a lawsuit over the ban. 

In a 113-page ruling, U.S. District Judge Robert Pitman of Austin said the law is an “offensive deprivation of such an important right” and said state actors, including judges and court clerks, can no longer enforce its provisions.

“From the moment (the law) went into effect, women have been unlawfully prevented from exercising control over their lives in ways that are protected by the Constitution,” Pitman wrote.

Republican Gov. Greg Abbott signed the legislation, known as the “fetal heartbeat” bill, into law in May. It bans abortions once a fetal heartbeat is detected, usually around six weeks of pregnancy and before many people realize they are pregnant.

There are no exemptions in cases of rape or incest. 

Abortion providers say the legislation would restrict 85% of abortion procedures in Texas. The law is one of the most direct challenges on the boundaries of the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1973 landmark Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion.

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