Texas asks panel to reinstate abortion ban

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) on Friday asked a federal appeals court to suspend an order blocking the state’s six-week abortion ban while the ruling is appealed.

Paxton asked the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals for an emergency stay of the ruling from Judge Robert Pitman, which earlier this week prevented Texas from enacting the nation’s strictest abortion ban.

The move was expected, and comes after Pitman failed to grant Paxton’s request for a stay in the event he ruled against the state. The appeal asks the court to grant an emergency stay by

Tuesday morning and to temporarily suspend Pitman’s injunction “as soon as possible.”

The request adds to the legal uncertainty facing abortion providers. Some doctors decided to begin restoring access to the procedure for everyone, while others have been waiting. The Texas law allows enforcement actions to be brought for abortions conducted while a court order blocking the law is in effect, if the court order is later reversed by a higher court.

While six week abortion bans have been overturned in court before, the Texas law is unique,and was written to make individuals in charge of enforcement, rather than the state.

In that sense, Paxton said the state was an improper plaintiff and couldn’t be sued, because private citizens were taking action to enforce the law, not state officials.

“Texas has no legal relationship with the private individuals who may make use of S.B. 8’s  private cause of action,” Paxton wrote. The court cannot “hold Texas responsible for the filings  of private citizens that Texas is powerless to prevent.”