AUSTIN, Texas — Texas on Friday asked a federal appeals court to swiftly allow the most restrictive abortion law in the U.S. to take effect, as some abortion clinics in the state resumed normal services for the first time since early September.
The request by Republican Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton came two days after a judge in Austin suspended enforcement of the law, known as Senate Bill 8, which bans abortions once cardiac activity is detected, usually around six weeks.
His office is seeking an emergency order that would freeze the ruling issued Wednesday by U.S. District Judge Robert Pitman, who called the law an “offensive deprivation” of the constitutional right to an abortion.
It puts the case before the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which previously allowed the law to move forward.
At least six abortion clinics in Texas began resuming regular abortion services after the law was put on hold, according to the Center for Reproductive Rights.
Many Texas physicians are still wary of performing abortions, worried that doing so could still put them in legal jeopardy.
Other states, mostly in the South, have passed similar laws that ban abortion within the early weeks of pregnancy, all of which judges have blocked. A 1992 decision by the U.S. Supreme Court prevented states from banning abortion before viability, the point at which a fetus can survive outside the womb, around 24 weeks of pregnancy.
But Texas’ version had so far outmaneuvered the courts because it leaves enforcement to private citizens to file suits, not prosecutors, which critics say amounts to a bounty.
Last month, the court did not rule on the constitutionality of the Texas law in allowing it to remain in place. But abortion providers took that 5-4 vote as an ominous sign about where the court might be heading on abortion after its conservative majority was fortified with three appointees of former President Donald Trump.