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Travis County judge issues temporary restraining orders ahead of Texas abortion bill rollout

The temporary restraining orders target a group called "Texas Right to Life."

AUSTIN, Texas — A Travis County judge has issued temporary restraining orders, which plaintiffs are seeing as a win in their fight against Senate Bill 8, an abortion law set to take effect on Wednesday, Sept. 1, in Texas.

Around 10 a.m. on Tuesday, one day before the abortion bill was set to take effect, the Travis County judge issued the restraining orders in response to different lawsuits obtained by KVUE.

Senate Bill 8, deemed by some as the "Heartbeat Bill," bans abortions once a fetal heartbeat is detected, which is typically at six weeks and before many women know they are pregnant. The bill does not make an exception for survivors of rape or incest who become pregnant as a result of the crime against them. It only allows an exception for medical emergencies. 

"It's the women with the least resources among the most vulnerable and marginalized communities who cannot meet this mandate and will not be able to travel out of state to access, what has been for 50 years a right – a constitutional right – in this country," Sarah Wheat, a spokesperson for Planned Parenthood Central Texas, said.

The bill will be enforced by the public through civil action. This means starting Sept. 1, anyone can sue a doctor or provider who performs or intends to perform an abortion. The judge's decision keeps an anti-abortion group, Texas Right to Life, from bringing a lawsuit under the law. The plaintiffs in the case say this will also block others from filing lawsuits under the law to enforce it. However, Texas Right to Life said the decision will not bar others from filing lawsuits, according to the Houston Chronicle.

The next hearing in the case is in two weeks on Sept. 13.

Abortion advocates and providers requested to put the bill on hold, and the Supreme Court voted 5-4 to deny the emergency appeal.  The filing comes after the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals denied the plaintiffs' request on Sunday to block the law.


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