A federal judge this week blocked enforcement of the recently-passed Texas heartbeat law after a legal challenge by the Biden administration. U.S. District Judge Robert Pitman ruled that the law, which bans abortions after a heartbeat is detected, is an “offensive deprivation of...an important right”. Pitman’s order prevents judges or court clerks in Texas from accepting lawsuits under the new statute, and requires the state to publish a copy of the injunction on its court websites. The state will likely appeal the ruling to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.
Last month, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to block the Texas law, stating that the plaintiffs had not identified a proper defendant. Unlike other abortion bans, the Texas law is enforced by civil suits from individuals, not state officials. However, two lawsuits were recently filed against a San Antonio abortion doctor, potentially providing a proper defendant for another court challenge.