Jan 18, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Texas abortion law remains in effect after appeals court ruling

Pro-life and pro-choice protestors gather outside the Supreme Court as arguments begin about the Texas abortion law by the court on Capitol Hill on Monday, Nov. 01, 2021 in Washington, DC.
Pro- and anti-abortion protesters outside the Supreme Court as arguments begin about the Texas abortion law on Capitol Hill in November. Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images

A U.S. appeals court transferred a challenge to the Texas law banning most abortions after about six weeks of pregnancy to the state Supreme Court in a 2-1 vote on Monday evening.

Why it matters: The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals' decision means the country's most restrictive abortion law can remain in place for the time being.

The big picture: The Republican-appointed Circuit Judges Edith Jones and Kyle Duncan wrote that their decision was "consistent" with that of the U.S. Supreme Court, which last month allowed the Texas law to remain in place.

  • The legislation, Senate Bill 8 (S.B.8), prohibits abortions after the detection of a fetal heartbeat, usually after six weeks — including in cases of rape and incest.
  • The U.S. Supreme Court did not rule on the merits of Texas' law, but the justices' decision paved the way for the lower courts to decide whether it is constitutional.

What they're saying: The Center for Reproductive Rights, which is representing the clinics in the case, said in an emailed statement that the court's latest ruling was "inconsistent" with the U.S. Supreme Court decision.

  • It accused Texas officials of using a "delay tactic" to prevent abortion providers "from getting back to the district court and obtaining a declaration once and for all that the ban is unconstitutional."
  • "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," added Nancy Northup, the group's president and CEO. "
"There is now no end in sight for this injustice that has been allowed to go on for almost five months."
— Nancy Northup

The other side: John Seago, legislative director for the anti-abortion group Texas Right to Life, has told the Texas Tribune previously, "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."

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