A Texas law that banned a widely accepted abortion procedure was upheld by a federal appeals court, paving the road for a potential case in the Supreme Court.
The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on Wednesday that a 2017 law, which banned the practice known as “dismemberment abortion,” was legal and not a violation of a woman’s reproductive rights, The Hill reported.
The court’s ruling comes as a potential landmark case regarding abortion is set to be argued before the Supreme Court in October, challenging the legality of the historical Roe v. Wade decision in 1973, and after several GOP senators filed amicus briefs in the case.
A plurality opinion of the en banc 5th Cir. holds that district court erred in concluding that Texas SB8, which bans “live dismemberment” abortions, imposes an undue burden on a large fraction of women seeking an abortion. https://t.co/EXzz24ujoA pic.twitter.com/FTvgVzCznH
— Gabriel Malor (@gabrielmalor) August 19, 2021
The 2017 law, according to the Texas Tribune, required doctors to use a process known as “fetal demise,” or the stoppage of a fetus’ heart, before proceeding with the abortion, with violations potentially resulting in jail time.
Lawyers who represented abortion clinics argued before the court that “at least” three abortion providers would no longer be able to perform the method if the law was upheld, the Tribune reported.
“Dismemberment abortion,” which is also referred to medically as “dilation and evacuation,” is considered to be a standard abortion procedure for second-trimester pregnancies, according to the Hill.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton was one of the defendants in the case that supported enforcement of the law, which had been previously blocked by the same court last year.
A majority opinion by the court in the newest hearing, according to the Hill, suggested that viewing the idea “through a binary framework — that either D&Es can be done only by live dismemberment or else women cannot receive abortions in the second trimester — is to accept a false dichotomy.”
“The district court committed numerous, reversible legal and factual errors,” the appeals court ruled, which included “applying the wrong test to assess [the bill]” and “bungling the large-fraction analysis.”
“The plaintiffs have failed to carry their heavy burden of proving that [the bill] would impose an undue burden on a large fraction of women,” the court ruled, before reversing the decision.
Ho includes a polemic—clearly directed at COVID restrictions—arguing that scientists should not be “blindly” trusted because “they’re susceptible to peer pressure, careerism, ambition, and fear of cancel culture.”
Tosses in citations questioning “sex reassignment surgery,” too. pic.twitter.com/S1hxNz112C
— Mark Joseph Stern (@mjs_DC) August 19, 2021
The opinion also stated that doctors could perform the procedure “and comply with SB8 using methods that are already in widespread use,” according to the Hill.
The decision prompted criticism from several women’s health rights organizations, including Planned Parenthood CEO Alexis McGill Johnson, who told the outlet the law was “a discriminatory attack against people of color … and those in rural communities.”
The president of Whole Woman’s Health, Amy Hagstrom Miller, who was also a plaintiff in the case, told the Hill that it “should never be a crime for doctors to use their best medical judgment and follow the most current science.”
Earlier in August, pro-abortion groups in Arizona filed a lawsuit that sought to overturn a law that prevented abortions on the grounds of Down syndrome or other abnormalities caused by genetic defects. The law is expected to go into effect on Sept. 29.
In North Carolina in June, Gov. Roy Cooper vetoed a bill that would have banned abortions based on race, sex or a Down syndrome diagnosis as well.
In May, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed a “heartbeat bill” into law that would essentially prohibit abortions in the state as little as six weeks into a pregnancy.
Congressional Republicans also moved to take action against universities in July, introducing a bill that would revoke money that would be used by government agencies to provide abortion drugs or actual abortions to students or faculty on campus.
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