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Today, the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas granted a preliminary injunction (PI) requested by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) to block enforcement of Texas’s six-week abortion ban, S.B. 8. With the law now blocked, no lawsuits under S.B. 8 can be filed, accepted, or ruled on by state court clerks or judges while litigation in the case continues.
Today’s ruling restores the protections of the U.S. Constitution to millions of Texans, where the abortion ban has been in effect since the Supreme Court’s inaction allowed it to take effect on September 1. For 36 days, abortion access has been decimated as Roe v. Wade became effectively meaningless for countless Texans. Most abortion patients in Texas have been forced to travel out of state for care or continue their pregnancy against their will. The DOJ challenged S.B. 8 and sought to restore abortion services in the state as swiftly as possible.
Statement from Alexis McGill Johnson, president and CEO, Planned Parenthood Federation of America:
“For more than a month now, Texans have been deprived of abortion access because of an unconstitutional law that never should have gone into effect. The relief granted by the court today is overdue, and we are grateful that the Department of Justice moved quickly to seek it. While this fight is far from over, we are hopeful that the court’s order blocking S.B. 8 will allow Texas abortion providers to resume services as soon as possible. Planned Parenthood providers across the country have reported serving Texas patients, who are heartbroken and furious that they’ve needed to leave home for essential health care — often at great expense. Planned Parenthood will continue fighting this ban in court, until we are certain that Texans’ ability to access abortion is protected.”
Joint statement from president & CEOs of Planned Parenthood South Texas, Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast, and Planned Parenthood Greater Texas:
“Across Texas, people have been forced into an impossible position: find the resources to travel hundreds of miles away from home during the COVID-19 pandemic for an abortion, or be denied the health care they need. Since September 1, millions of Texans have been forced to live under this extreme and harmful law. Even one day denies too many patients of their fundamental right to health care. While the Department of Justice’s swift action and the court’s order seek to restore Texans’ options to access abortion in their own state, we understand Texas will immediately appeal Our patients and providers need the courts to allow care to resume. We will keep fighting for our patients and their right to access abortion without government interference.”
Under the PI secured by the DOJ, S.B. 8 lawsuits cannot be accepted by Texas courts. The PI was necessary because other challenges to S.B. 8 continue to stall in the courts. Planned Parenthood and its litigating partners have asked the U.S. Supreme Court to reconsider intervention in the federal case brought by abortion providers, funds, and supporters, which won’t be heard by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals until December at the earliest — and the Supreme Court has not acted on a request to expedite a decision on the petition. Additionally, Planned Parenthood’s state-level challenge has been indefinitely stayed, after the Texas Supreme Court refused to intervene and allow the lawsuit, along with more than a dozen others, to proceed.