United States v. Texas
United States v. Texas (U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas, October 6, 2021): The federal district court issued an order prohibiting Texas from enforcing S.B. 8, which prohibits abortion if cardiac activity has been detected in the embryo, with no exceptions for pregnancies that result from rape or for a fetus with a defect incompatible with life after birth. S.B. 8 allows anyone to bring a case against an individual who performs an abortion or who aids and abets an individual in securing an abortion, with at least $10,000 in damages available to a successful plaintiff. The U.S. Department of Justice sued, alleging the Texas law violates the U.S. Constitution. The district court found that the U.S. is likely to succeed on the merits of the case. The court found the constitutional right to an abortion prior to fetal viability to be well-established and that by allowing private plaintiffs to use the state judicial system for enforcement of the law, the State violates that right. In refusing to stay its decision and allow S.B. 8 to remain in effect while Texas appeals the decision, the district court explained that “[f]rom the moment S.B. 8 went into effect, women have been unlawfully prevented from exercising control over their lives in ways that are protected by the Constitution [and] this court will not sanction one more day of this offensive deprivation of such an important right.” Read the full decision here. On October 14, 2021, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals stayed the district court’s order pending appeal. Read the Fifth Circuit decision here.