Thursday, May 26

Texas six-week abortion ban remains in effect after appeals court ruling

Two of the three judges on the panel decided to send the case to the Texas Supreme Court for interpretation of the veto.

Tim Sloan / AFP / Getty Images

WASHINGTON – A federal appeals court issued a ruling Monday that, in practice, it promises to cause the almost total ban on abortion in Texas, which contains no exceptions for cases of incest or rape, will remain in force for months.

Almost a month after the US Supreme Court left in force the controversial veto of Texas, which prohibits abortion from six weeks of gestation, a panel of the court of appeals for the Fifth Circuit returned to rule on the measure.

Two of the three judges on that panel decided to send the case to the Texas Supreme Court for it to interpret the constitutionality of the veto, a ruling that implies that the legislation, which went into effect last September, will remain in force indefinitely, at least while the process continues in the courts.

“The Texas Supreme Court must interpret the unresolved issues in state lawConservative-leaning Judge Edith Jones wrote in her decision on the case.

The court thus rejected the request of the clinics that perform abortions in Texas, which this month asked the court to remand the case to a lower federal court that already temporarily blocked the veto in October.

In December, the US Supreme Court upheld the controversial law and left almost no options for clinics that perform abortions in the state, which he only allowed to sue medical licensing boards, but not state or judicial officials.

Texas law allows private individuals to file civil lawsuits against anyone who helps a pregnant woman get an abortion if they believe they are violating the ban, and offers up to $10,000 in damages to each plaintiff for a successful lawsuit.

This peculiar system has allowed the Texas authorities to avoid responsibility for the application of the law, because the weight of the implementation falls on private citizens and not on the conservative leaders who promoted the veto.

The Supreme Court is scheduled to decide in the middle of this year on another Mississippi law that would prevent abortion after 15 weeks in that state, in a case that could mean the end of the legal precedent set by that same court in 1973, known as “Roe versus Wade”.

The 1973 decision forced all US states to guarantee the right to abortion for any reason until the moment of “viability” of the fetus outside the womb, around 23 or 24 weeks of pregnancy.

In the last decade, however, numerous conservative states have passed regulations that blatantly violate the parameters of “Roe versus Wade”, with the express objective of getting the Supreme Court to review and repeal that decision.

If the Supreme Court repeals “Roe versus Wade”, each US territory would be free to ban or allow abortion as they please, and it is expected that, in that case, more than half of the states in the country will take measures to veto it.

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