Jonathan Bachman / AP
NEW ORLEANS – A Texas law banning a method of abortion commonly used to end second-trimester pregnancies has been upheld by a New Orleans federal appeals court.
The 2017 law in question has never been applied. Try to prohibit the use of forceps to remove a fetus from the uterus without first using an injected medication or a suction procedure to ensure the fetus is dead.
Proponents of abortion rights argued that the law, known as SB8 in court records, effectively bans what is often the safest method of abortion for women in the second trimester of pregnancy. The procedure is medically known as dilation and evacuation.
They also argued that fetuses cannot feel pain during the gestation period affected by the law.
Texas lawmakers banned the procedure with a law describing it as “dismemberment abortion.” Advocates for abortion rights argued in court that a statutory alternative, which uses suction to remove a fetus, also results in dismemberment.
A group of three judges from the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals of the United States blocked the execution of the law last year. But a new full court hearing was granted in Texas, and most of the 14 appellate judges who heard arguments in January (three of the court’s 17 active judges were challenged) sided with Texas on Wednesday. The opinion, presented by Judges Jennifer Walker Elrod and Don Willett, states that “the record shows that physicians can perform D&Es safely and comply with SB8 using methods that are already widely used.”
Judges Priscilla Owen, Edith Jones, Jerry Smith, Catharina Haynes, James Ho, Kurt Engelhardt and Cory Wilson agreed on the outcome.
Judge James Dennis wrote a dissent, along with Judges Carl Stewart and James Graves. Judge Stephen Higginson wrote a separate dissent, along with Gregg Costa.
Dennis said Texas law, “under the guise of regulation, makes it a crime to make the most common and safe abortion procedure used during the second trimester.”
The Center for Reproductive Rights is analyzing the decision and considering all legal options, said its president and CEO, Nancy Northup.
“Texas has been determined to legislate abortion because of its existence, and it is unpleasant for a federal court to uphold a law that so clearly defies decades of Supreme Court precedents,” Northup said. “At a time when the health care needs of jeans are greater than ever, the state should make abortion more accessible, no more and no less. There is no doubt that today’s decision will hurt those who already face the biggest barriers to health care. “
Texas Right to Life applauded the sentence.
“If the abortion industry appeals today’s decision, the Supreme Court must answer the case’s dynamic legal question:“ Is a dismemberment abortion inhumane enough to justify the legal ban? “The obvious answer to this specific question directly undermines some of the central premise of the Supreme Court in its case law on abortion, such as the misconception that premature abortions viability are more ethical than those that occur after viability. “
“The Texans are celebrating today’s long-awaited victory,” said Kimberlyn Schwartz, director of communications and media for Texas Right to Life, Kimberlyn Schwartz. “Anyone can see the cruelty of dismemberment abortions, tearing a child’s body while his heart is still beating. We are grateful that the judges recognize this horror.”