AUSTIN, Texas (KETK) – Several abortion groups named as plaintiffs in a lawsuit against Smith County district judge Austin Jackson and several others filed a motion over the weekend to halt enforcement of the “heartbeat law”.
The law, authored by East Texas State Sen. Bryan Hughes (R-Mineola), is set to go into effect Sept. 1 and is seen as one of the most restrictive abortion measures in the nation. It outlaws the procedure once a fetal heartbeat can be detected, which is usually around six weeks and before many women know they are pregnant.
The motion filed by the pro-choice groups asks the judge to issue an order that would keep the law from taking effect in September until a final ruling has been issued. It also asks that the law be found unconstitutional and taken off the books.
The law allows private citizens to file civil suits against abortion providers or doctors who violate the law and makes it nearly impossible for them to retain attorney’s fees. These suits can be brought to any judge that has the authority to hear civil cases in Texas.
The motion to pause the law’s enforcement says that “patients throughout Texas would immediately suffer irreparable harm in the form of deprivation of their constitutional rights” and that it would block “tens of thousands of patients of reproductive age from access to this time-sensitive care.”
Judge Jackson, in coordination with Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and the other defendants, filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit against him last week.
In his motion, Jackson tore into the lawsuit arguing that a federal court cannot instruct a state judge how to handle a case that would be brought before it.
“The entire purpose of the… relief Plaintiffs seek is for this Court to effetively tell Judge Jackson how to adjudicate all lawsuits that may be brought in his court under S.B.8… In other words… a thinly-veiled request for this Court to tell Judge Jackson how to be a judge.MOTION TO DISMISS BY JUDGE JACKSON
While Judge Jackson is named personally in the lawsuit, it does not say why he was chosen to represent nearly all judges that could have an abortion suit brought before them.
Last Wednesday, Jackson ripped the pro-choice organizations in a press conference, saying “out-of-county, out-of-state, out-of-touch groups like Planned Parenthood and the ACLU have decided that if they can’t silence the legislators down in Austin, maybe they can silence the judges who enforce the law in East Texas.”
Texas Right to Life, the oldest pro-life group in the state, endorsed Jackson two weeks before early voting began last year. He was also endorsed by State Rep. Matt Schaefer, who the Texas Tribune ranked as the most conservative House member during this year’s legislative session.
Smith County Clerk Penny Clarkson has also been sued since it would be her duty to file any lawsuit that an individual would file against an abortion provider.
To read the motion to halt enforcement of the bill, click below.