A federal judge has temporarily blocked a near-total ban on abortion in Texas, following a challenge from the Biden administration.
US District Judge Robert Pitman in Austin granted the request, preventing the state from enforcing the Republican-backed law, while its legality is being challenged.
The controversial law prohibits women from obtaining an abortion after six weeks of pregnancy – a time when many women do not yet know they are pregnant.
It makes no exceptions for pregnancies caused by rape or incest.
“This court will not sanction one more day of this offensive deprivation of such an important right,” Judge Pitman said in the ruling.
The ink was barely dry on Judge Pitman’s order before Texas notified the court that it intends to appeal the ruling to the conservative-leaning Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, setting the stage for the next phase of the legal battle.
“Tonight’s ruling is an important step forward toward restoring the constitutional rights of women across the state of Texas,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement.
“The fight has only just begun, both in Texas and in many states across this country where women’s rights are currently under attack,” she added.
Mr Biden’s Justice Department sued Texas last month and sought a temporary injunction against the law, arguing during a 1 October hearing that the measure violates the US Constitution.
The US Supreme Court on 1 September let the law take effect in a 5-4 vote powered by conservative justices.
The law also lets ordinary citizens enforce the ban, rewarding them at least $10,000 (€8,655) if they successfully sue anyone who helped provide an abortion after fetal cardiac activity is detected.