Federal Appeal Court Upholds Texas Abortion Ban, Moves Case to State Supreme Court

                      (Gov. Gregg Abbott)

The abortion ban in Texas, United States, has been upheld by a Federal Appeal Court. On Monday, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit ruled 2-1 which sent abortion clinics’ challenge against the Texas Heartbeat Act passed in 2021 to the Texas Supreme Court. This means that the law would remain for months before another ruling is made.

The majority opinion was authored by Circuit Judge Edith Jones who said that “the federal courts are bound by an authoritative determination of state law by the state’s highest court.”

He continued, “Here, there is a possibility that federal courts could declare S.B. 8 constitutionally infirm even though our conclusions might be based entirely on a faulty understanding of Texas law.

“To avert creating needless friction with a coequal sovereign in our federal system, this court reasonably seeks the Texas Supreme Court’s final word on the matter.”

Meanwhile, Circuit Judge Stephen Higginson, made a contrary opinion saying that he believes that transferring the case to the state supreme court means the panel is defying an order by the U.S. Supreme Court.

“S.B.8 and its defenders have challenged Supreme Court authority, first by deliberately nullifying a constitutional right expounded by the Court and now, when checked by that Court, by convincing us, an inferior federal court duty-bound to apply a Supreme Court holding, instead to question that holding,” Higginson said.

In May 2021, Senate Bill 8 was signed into law by Governor Greg Abbott and it was effective in September. The law states that once a pregnancy is around six weeks and the baby’s heartbeat can be detected, an abortion is prohibited.

While abortion-rights supporters have stood against this decision, pro-life proponents have applauded it.

Pro-life group Texas Right to Life, applauded the panel’s decision saying, “This is great news for Texas because such action is more likely to ensure a just and favorable ruling, compared to that which could be expected from a pro-abortion federal district judge, to whom the abortion industry asked to send the case,” stated the group. 

“Beyond this, sending the lawsuit to the Supreme Court of Texas is appropriate because the only defendants left in the case are state agencies. Most exciting of all is that the Texas Heartbeat Act has withstood another court decision and is continuing to save an estimated 100 preborn lives every day.” 

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