EXCLUSIVE: Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton on Friday asked the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Friday to restore Texas’ ‘fetal heartbeat’ abortion law, which took effect last month.
Texas is “appealing the district court decision to stay our Texas legislation on stopping abortions once a heartbeat is detected,” Paxton said in an exclusive interview with Fox News.
“We got a ruling from the federal district judge that would stay that law from staying in effect, and we’re challenging that and appealing that to the Fifth Circuit,” Paxton said, referencing a ruling from a district court judge who issued a Temporary Restraining Order blocking the legislation, known as Texas Senate Bill 8, on Wednesday.
“I do think it will be successful,” Paxton said of the appeal. “I think that duly elected representatives of people made the decision about how they wanted to address this, and I think the stay was premature. The judge hasn’t really heard the merits of the case, so this needs to stay in effect until we have a chance to present our arguments in court.”
One of the strongest arguments for the case, according to Paxton, is that the legislation “was passed by the elected representatives of the state of Texas.”
“There’s always a presumption that the people’s elected representatives have the ability to put whatever legislation they want to in place,” Paxton said, noting that “there’s a good chance that whatever side does not prevail in the 5th Circuit will appeal it to the Supreme Court.”
Paxton also stated that he believes Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, who signed the legislation into law in May, would agree that the state “should defend [the legislation] the way we are.”
The attorney general also said he expects the court to “rule relatively quickly given that we’ve got a judge stopping state law from going into effect after it’s been in effect for five weeks.”
“It’s pretty important, I think in this country, that states have the opportunities to put their own laws in place,” Paxton said during the interview. “For decades and decades . . . this was an issue that was regulated by states. And only in 1972 did the courts decide that courts were better at regulating this, and that hasn’t worked out so well,” he said. “I think this is something we need to bring back to the court’s attention and hopefully go back to each individual state making their own decisions about this as opposed to courts who are not equipped to handle legislating for the entire country.”
The Texas law prohibits abortions once medical professionals can detect cardiac activity, usually around six weeks and before many women know they’re pregnant. Rather than having the state enforce the ban, the law creates a private right of action against individuals who commit or aid and abet an abortion that violates the law – but not against the woman who undergoes the procedure.
The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals had previously rejected requests for a stay when abortion providers sought to prevent the law from going into effect until the resolution of a court dispute. The plaintiffs appealed to the Supreme Court, but the Supreme Court allowed the law to go into effect.
Fox News’ Tyler O’Neil contributed to this article.