Texas abortion ban remains in effect after appeals court rules against Justice Dept.
Texas abortion ban remains in effect after appeals court rules against Justice Dept.

The nation’s most restrictive abortion law remains in place for now, after a federal appeals court on Thursday sided with the state of Texas.

In a 2-to-1 order, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit refused the Justice Department’s request to reinstate an earlier court ruling that temporarily lifted the ban, which bars abortion as early as six weeks into pregnancy and makes no exceptions for rape or incest.

The four-sentence order, which is expected to be appealed the Supreme Court, was backed by Judges James C. Ho, a nominee of President Donald Trump, and Catharina Haynes, a nominee of President George W. Bush. It did not detail the court’s reasoning, but noted the dissent of Judge Carl E. Stewart, a nominee of President Bill Clinton.

The order follows a temporary decision last week by the same panel of judges to reinstate the ban, less than 48 hours after it was suspended by the lower-court judge. The decision was based on previous rulings in a separate challenge, which said that because the ban is enforced by private individuals, and not government officials, it is not clear when and how the law can be challenged in federal court.

Abortion care is a ‘calling’ for this doctor. Now he must risk lawsuits, or quit.

The battle over the law’s enforcement mechanism has effectively halted almost all abortions in Texas, even though no court has addressed whether the ban violates past Supreme Court decisions guaranteeing the right to an abortion until viability, usually about 22 to 24 weeks of pregnancy.

The Supreme Court allowed a Texas law banning abortion past six weeks to remain in effect. Other conservative states may adopt similar measures going forward. (Blair Guild/The Washington Post)
Since Sept. 1, patients seeking to terminate their pregnancies have been driving hours to other states, including Oklahoma and Kansas, according to providers and advocates. Those who lack the money to make such trips, or cannot leave work or child-care commitments, are forced to continue with unwanted pregnancies.

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