Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals Denies Request to Rehear Texas Ultrasound Case

Center for Reproductive Rights pledges to consider all available means of continuing to challenge all assaults on rights of women and reproductive health care providers

(PRESS RELEASE) The Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has denied a request by the Center for Reproductive Rights for a new hearing in its case against key provisions of Texas’s extreme anti-abortion law, which force doctors to convey sonogram details to women seeking abortions — even if it goes against the doctor’s medical judgment and the women say no.

The Center for Reproductive Rights filed a petition for a rehearing en banc on January 24—requesting that all the judges on the circuit court consider the case, rather than a selected panel. With today’s decision not to rehear the case, the panel’s decision overturning the district court’s preliminary injunction will stand.

“Texas women deserve much better than this,” said Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights. “Women’s fundamental reproductive rights, and the First Amendment rights of their doctors, are now being violated on a daily basis because of this extreme and intrusive law, and it is disappointing that the full court has declined to consider their case.”

The Center for Reproductive Rights is currently reviewing all available means of continuing to challenge this and all laws that seek to undermine women’s fundamental rights.

“This battle has sparked a national conversation about the necessity of respecting women and trusting them to decide for themselves what information they need to make their own choices about their reproductive health and future,” Northup said.

“We will continue to defend the reproductive rights of all women relentlessly, to expose the terrible harm that anti-choice laws like this cause in countless women’s lives, and to use the momentum we have built to seek stronger legal protections against the assaults of anti-choice ideologues.”

Following the three-judge panel’s opinion overturning his preliminary injunction of the law, U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks decided earlier this week he could not grant the Center’s request to permanently halt enforcement. However in his decision, Judge Sparks’ strongly disagreed with the panel’s opinion—stating that it “effectively eviscerated the protections of the First Amendment” and allows the government to “make puppets out of doctors.”

On January 10, a panel of three judges on the Fifth Circuit overturned the district court’s preliminary injunction blocking enforcement of the law and reserved jurisdiction over all further appeals in the case.

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 the Law Office of Susan Hays, PC in Dallas, and Alex Lawrence and Jamie A. Levitt of Morrison & Foerster, LLP in New York.