Medical Technology

Supreme Court Returns Texas Abortion Case to Appeals Court

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court has formally returned the case of Texas’ six-week abortion ban to an appeals court in the federal government that has repeatedly allowed the law to stay in force, instead of to a district judge who sought to stop the law.

Justice Neil Gorsuch on Thursday signed the court’s order that granted the request of abortion clinics to the court to act swiftly. The clinics requested the case to be sent directly to Robert Pitman, the United US Judge. Pitman had previously briefly denied the implementation of Texas’ abortion ban known as S.B. 8.

Pitman had ordered that the law be blocked in October. The appeals court rescinded his order two days after.

Texas has stated that it will try to keep the case locked up at the appeals court in the foreseeable future.

Marc Hearron, the Center for Reproductive Rights lawyer who represented the clinics at the high court said, “The Supreme Court left only a tiny portion of our case in tact and it’s obvious that this particular part of the case won’t block vigilante lawsuits from being filed. It’s also clear that Texas is determined to prevent the plaintiffs from obtaining any relief, even the sliver of the case that remains.”

The law has been in effect for more than three months . It bans abortions when embryos are displaying cardiac activity. This is usually about six weeks before many women realize they are pregnant. The law does not make exceptions for incest or rape.

It also evades state officials who usually enforce laws, and empowers private citizens to sue doctors, clinics and anyone else who facilitates abortions after the cutoff for cardiac blood flow.

Gorsuch’s majority decision last week by the Supreme Court restricted who can be sued by clinics in an effort to prevent the law from being enforced. It also allowed them to resume offering abortions with no financial risk.

The court has ruled that only state licensing officials are able to be sued. Clinics claimed that this wouldn’t hinder doctors from filing lawsuits against them should they continue to perform abortions.

Gorsuch wrote that “it appears” the licensing officials could be sued. He wrote that “Officially, Texas courts and not this court are the sole arbiters on the meaning of state statute directions.”

The state has informed the justices that it would request the appeals court to, in turn, seek a final decision from the Texas Supreme Court over the role that licensing officials play in enforcing the abortion ban.

The appeals court will decide whether to refer the case to the state’s high court, which would put the case on hold.

The Supreme Court has also before it the Mississippi abortion case. In this case, the justices have indicated that they would be willing to restrict abortion rights and may even overrule Roe V. Wade and Planned Parenthood. These landmark cases have declared the right to an abortion.

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