AUSTIN, Texas (AP) – Abortion clinics in Texas returned to court on Friday, weakened in their efforts to stop the nation’s most restrictive abortion law after the U.S. Supreme Court cleared the last month the almost total ban on the procedure by the state to remain in place.
There was only one narrow question left before the 5th U.S. Court of Appeals in New Orleans – whether to send a more limited challenge to a federal judge in Austin, who has already blocked the restrictions once. , or the Texas Supreme Court. There was no immediate decision after an hour of argument, and clinics argue the procedural battle only ensures the restrictions stay in place longer.
The Supreme Court signaled last month in a separate Mississippi case that it would strike down abortion rights and possibly overturn its landmark Roe v. Wade, in a decision expected later this year.
“What happens then? Is this case alive or dead? ”Judge Edith Jones asked about the Texas trial.
Lawyers for Texas abortion providers have urged the court to take swift action.
The law banning abortions in Texas once heart activity is detected – usually around six weeks, before some women know they are pregnant – has been in effect since September. Since then, doctors say they are serving about a third of their usual patient volume, while abortion clinics in neighboring states are waiting for women from Texas.
Although the Supreme Court has allowed the Texas clinics to sue against the ban, five conservative justices have formed a majority to limit who can be sued before Texas licensing officials.
Both sides said it would likely prevent federal courts from effectively blocking the law, which has been proven to last due to its new regime that leaves enforcement only to private prosecutions against clinics or anyone helping a female patient. get an abortion.