Judge temporarily blocks enforcement of Texas abortion law
A federal judge temporarily blocked Texas' near-total abortion ban Wednesday.
The law would prohibit women in Texas from obtaining an abortion after six weeks of pregnancy.
After the prohibition was approved by the state's Republican politicians and the Supreme Court did not step in to prevent Texas from enacting the law, President Joe Biden's administration took legal action to try and block the law.
The Justice Department filed an emergency motion to block enforcement of the law while it pursues legal action.
The president has described the law as an "unprecedented assault" on women's rights.
This is in stark contrast with Texas Governor Greg Abbott's stance on the matter. Abbott is quoted as defending the law with the words, "the most precious freedom is life itself."
The "Heartbeat Act" forbids terminations after the detection of what anti-abortion campaigners call a fetal heartbeat.
The law defines 'fetal heartbeat' as "cardiac activity or the steady and repetitive rhythmic contraction of the fetal heart within the gestational sac" and says that a pregnant woman could use this signal to determine "the likelihood of her unborn child surviving to full-term birth."
But some say the medical-sounding term 'fetal heartbeat' is being used in this law in a misleading way. Some say that checking for a heartbeat is defined as 'listening to the sound caused by the opening and closing of the cardiac valves' and that at six weeks of gestation, those valves do not exist.
Some physicians say at that early stage of pregnancy the flickering seen on the ultrasound is actually electrical activity and the sound heard may be coming from the ultrasound machine itself.
The term has become a source of contention between individuals who identify as pro-life and those who support pro-choice views.
Despite the injunction, some Texas clinics are still hesitant to resume procedures as there is some uncertainty over whether they could be sued retroactively during the ban.
Legal experts say the law includes a provision that clinics and doctors may still be liable for abortions carried out while an emergency injunction is in place.
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