Texas Abortion Ban Will Last at Least Until December Hearing (1)

Oct. 15, 2021, 3:47 PM

Most abortions in Texas will remain banned until at least early December, after a federal appeals court said it will keep a judge’s ruling blocking the law on ice until the issue is taken up in a related challenge.

In a 2-1 decision, the U.S. Court of Appeals in New Orleans on Thursday denied a Justice Department request to revive an injunction temporarily blocking the law while the federal government’s lawsuit challenging the ban proceeds in court.

The appeals panel also scheduled oral arguments in the week of Dec. 6 for that case and in a challenge to the law brought by clinics and reproductive-rights advocates. The ban could be lifted if the U.S. or the clinics prevail at that hearing.

Judges appointed by former Presidents Donald Trump and George W. Bush sided with Texas in the latest ruling, while a Bill Clinton appointee dissented.

The law, known as S.B. 8, bans abortions after about the sixth week of pregnancy, before many women realize they’re pregnant. There are no exceptions for rape or incest. The law, the strictest in the nation, also allows members of the public to sue anyone in Texas who aids in an illegal abortion and seek bounties of at least $10,000 per procedure.

Separately on Thursday, Texas’s multidistrict litigation panel agreed to consolidate more than a dozen suits targeting anti-abortion activists who have vowed to sue abortion providers and enablers under S.B. 8. The suits were filed by groups including Planned Parenthood against Texas Right, which helped pass the ban.

The cases will now be heard by a 75-year-old retired state magistrate judge, David Peeples, a registered Republican, court records show.

Multidistrict proceedings generally dilute the voices of plaintiffs while amplifying those of the defendants. They also seek to avoid conflicting rulings and get to a final outcome faster.

Read more: Texas Lawyer Behind Abortion Ban Says Copycat Fear Overblown

(Updates with state-court lawsuits being consolidated.)

To contact the reporters on this story:
Laurel Calkins in New York at lcalkins@bloomberg.net;
Erik Larson in New York at elarson4@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story:
Katia Porzecanski at kporzecansk1@bloomberg.net

Joe Schneider, Steve Stroth

© 2021 Bloomberg L.P. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

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