Center for Reproductive Rights Petitions Fifth Circuit Court for New Hearing on Intrusive Texas Ultrasound Law

(PRESS RELEASE) The Center for Reproductive Rights filed a petition last night for a new hearing before the full U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in its case against key provisions of a Texas law requiring doctors who perform abortions to convey images and sounds of the embryo or fetus to women who are captive during the ultrasound procedure — even if it goes against a physician’s medical judgment and the woman says no.

The petition is requesting that the entire court rehear the case en banc, which would allow all judges on the circuit court to consider the case, rather than a selected panel.

On January 10, a panel of three judges on the Fifth Circuit overturned the district court’s preliminary injunction blocking enforcement of portions of the law and retained jurisdiction over all further appeals in the case. Just days after that decision, the panel granted the state’s request to immediately remove the preliminary injunction — far swifter than the 22 days it typically takes for an appellate decision to take effect.

“We disagree with the Fifth Circuit panel’s conclusion that physicians who provide abortions have fewer First Amendment protections than other citizens simply because they perform a service that some politicians don’t like,” said Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights. “We’re asking the full court to rectify this unjustified curtailment of free speech rights and keep government out of conversations between Texas women and their doctors.”

The Center was back in Texas district court on January 20, arguing before U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks for a permanent injunction of the extreme law’s provisions. Judge Sparks has not yet issued a decision.

The Center filed the class action in June 2011 against the ultrasound requirements on behalf of Texas medical providers performing abortions and their patients.  The case, Texas Medical Providers Performing Abortion Services v. Lakey, was filed by the Center for Reproductive Rights along with co-counsel Richard Alan Grigg of Spivey & Grigg, LLP in Austin, Susan L. Hays of Godwin Ronquillo, PC in Dallas, and Alex Lawrence and Jamie A. Levitt of Morrison & Foerster, LLP in New York.