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One day until the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals hears challenge to Texas’s Heartbeat Law

by | Jan 6, 2022

By Dave Andrusko

Unless there is a last-minute move by the Supreme Court, on Friday the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals will decide whether the remaining challenge to Texas’s Heartbeat Law “should be sent to the Texas Supreme Court or proceed in federal court,” according to the Texas Tribune. The Heartbeat law–Senate Bill 8–protects unborn children whose hearts have begun to beat, usually at about 6 weeks of pregnancy. 

Attorneys for the Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR), which represents the litigants, argue the case should be returned to U.S. District Judge Robert Pitman who briefly—and harshly– blocked S.B.8.

“In November, lawyers for the abortion providers argued before the Supreme Court that the law is unconstitutional and could be blocked by preventing the judicial system from taking these cases,” reported Eleanor Klibanoff. “But the high court largely disagreed with the challenges brought by lawyers for the abortion providers. It did allow one challenge to proceed against state officials who would be responsible for revoking the medical licenses of anyone who was sued under the law.”

Unless the High Court answers before Friday, the appeals hearing will proceed as scheduled.

Last month, as reported by NRL News Today, the U.S. Supreme Court allowed the law to remain in effect. The justices did allow only one narrow challenge against medical licensing officials to proceed. 

“It also said the providers couldn’t sue state judges, county clerks, the state’s attorney general, and an anti-abortion advocate,” Mary Ann Pazanowski of Bloomberg News reported, “This left the administrative officials as the only defendants.”

Meanwhile, the Heartbeat Law has remained in place saving the lives of hundreds of babies.

Texas has asked the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals to consider “what it says are lingering legal questions about the ability of the abortion providers to sue licensing officials,” NBC News’s Pete Williams wrote. “Lawyers for the Center for Reproductive Rights said in a petition filed Monday that the U.S. Supreme Court has already decided the issue and that Texas and the appeals court are stalling” [https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/supreme-court/opponents-texas-abortion-law-ask-supreme-court-expedite-their-challenge-n1286897].

“The Fifth Circuit has no issues left to resolve in the appeal before it and no authority to retain jurisdiction,” CRR argued.

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