Federal Appeals Court Delivers Big Win for Pro-Life Movement, Allows Texas Abortion Law to Remain in Effect
A legal effort to shut down the Texas law that bans abortions after the heartbeat of a baby can be detected failed Monday.
The law has had a tangled legal history from the moment it took effect, with abortion advocates — abetted by the Biden administration — trying to block it while the state defends the law.
Last month, the U.S. Supreme Court allowed the law to remain in effect while legal arguments play out over whether the law violates the Roe v. Wade precedent.
The Texas law is unique among anti-abortion laws in that it authorizes members of the public to sue anyone who performs an abortion in violation of the law.
The case went to the Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals after the Supreme Court ruling. Texas now wants the case to go before the Texas Supreme Court to begin what is expected to be a series of rulings on the constitutionality of the Texas law, according to The Washington Post.
The state got its way in Monday’s ruling, which also left the law in effect while the state court debates its merits.
Both dissents from the December 10 #SCOTUS ruling had suggested that the Justices believed the district court would be able to act quickly. This decision now keeps the case in limbo — and abortion after 6 weeks in the nation’s second-largest state — a dead-letter, indefinitely. https://t.co/B7yAcWg6Tn
— Steve Vladeck (@steve_vladeck) January 17, 2022
“This decision now keeps the case in limbo — and abortion after 6 weeks in the nation’s second-largest state — a dead-letter, indefinitely,” wrote Steve Vladeck, a University of Texas School of Law professor.
The decision by the appeals court came with Judges Edith Jones, appointed by former President Ronald Reagan, and Kyle Duncan, appointed by former President Donald Trump, supporting sending the law back for review while it remains in effect.
The judges wrote that they believed they were acting in the manner the Supreme Court intended when it sent the Fifth District the case.
Judge Stephen A. Higginson, appointed by former President Barack Obama, opposed that ruling.
“This further, second-guessing redundancy, without time limit, deepens my concern that justice delayed is justice denied, here impeding relief ordered by the Supreme Court,” he wrote in a dissent.
The pro-abortion Center for Reproductive Rights, attacked the ruling, according to Axios.
Texas officials are employing a “delay tactic” to block abortion providers “from getting back to the district court and obtaining a declaration once and for all that the ban is unconstitutional,” it wrote in a statement from Nancy Northup, the group’s president and CEO.
“As a result, Texans will continue to have to travel hundreds of miles to access abortion care, and those without means to do so will be forced to continue their pregnancies,” the statement said.
John Seago, legislative director for Texas Right to Life, has said every day the law lives, so do children.
“While all of these complicated legal questions are untangled, we already every day have our victory. Courts have allowed this law to stay in effect,” he said.
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