Federal Appeals Court to Hear Final Challenge to Texas Abortion Law Friday Pro-abortion activist demonstrate in front of The Basilica of St. Patrick's Old Cathedral in New York on Dec. 4, 2021. (Yuki Iwamura/AFP via Getty)
By Charlie McCarthy | Thursday, 06 January 2022 10:39 AM
Providers' final challenge to Texas' new restrictive abortion law will occur Friday at a federal appeals court.
The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans will consider whether state medical licensing officials can discipline doctors and nurses for performing abortions in Texas after about six weeks of pregnancy, The Texas Tribune reported.
The court will decide whether the challenge should be sent to the Texas Supreme Court or proceed in federal court.
The Tribune reported that the "thin challenge" is the only one left to abortion providers. The Supreme Court in December decided to send the case to the appeals court instead of to a trial judge who once blocked the law.
Lawyers for Texas abortion providers on Monday asked the Supreme Court to step in and force the 5th Circuit — considered one of the country's most politically conservative circuit courts — to send the case to a federal district court.
The high court has not responded to that motion. Unless it does so before Friday, the appeals hearing will proceed as scheduled.
"The best thing would have been for the Supreme Court to block this unconstitutional law, but we didn’t get that," Whole Woman's Health CEO Amy Hagstrom Miller told the Tribune.
"So we just have to keep trying to get some relief from this law."
The Tribune said the final remaining challenge from the case will not substantially change the essence of the law, which empowers private citizens to sue anyone who "aids or abets" an abortion after about six weeks of pregnancy.
"I'm not sure people are fully appreciating the impact of that Supreme Court ruling," Center for Reproductive Rights Senior Counsel Marc Hearron told the Tribune.
"The Supreme Court … has given the green light to these bounty-hunting schemes."
The Texas ban on abortions after six weeks of pregnancy took effect Sept. 1 after the U.S. Supreme Court did not act on an emergency request by abortion rights groups to block the law.
The Supreme Court ruled in Roe v. Wade in 1973 that states cannot ban abortion before the point at which a fetus could likely survive outside the womb, usually around 24 weeks.
The high court on Dec. 1 heard arguments with a case about a Mississippi ban on abortion after 15 weeks. The justices are being asked to overturn Roe v. Wade.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.