US President Joe Biden's administration has hit back at the implementation of a near total abortion ban in Texas.
The controversial law was reinstated by a federal appeals court, and the Supreme Court decided against intervening to block it last month.
Voting 2-1, 5th US Circuit Court of Appeals said on Thursday that it will allow the new law to stay in force while an appeal of a judge's order blocking it is considered.
The law sets a new standard for when life begins, banning abortions from when cardiac activity, or a foetal heartbeat is detected – though this phenomenon is disputed by medical authorities.
While the law makes an exception for medical emergencies – but not for instances of rape or incest – it gives any individual the right to sue doctors who perform an abortion past the six-week point.
According to critics, this could incentivise lawsuits motivated by financial reward.
The Biden administration is gearing up to fight the ban, citing America’s constitutional rights enshrined in the 1973 Supreme Court decision of Roe v Wade, which gave US women the right to an abortion until a foetus is viable – meaning able to survive outside the womb.
This point usually occurs between 22 and 24 weeks into pregnancy.
The Justice Department is expected to file its appeal over the next few days, and the decision of the Supreme Court, with its 6-3 conservative majority, will send a clear message to states looking to change abortion laws going forward.