(REVISED 1.19.22) This case was a challenge to a Texas ban on the standard procedure for abortion care after about 14-15 weeks. The Center for Reproductive Rights and Planned Parenthood filed the lawsuit in federal district court in July 2017. The law was ruled unconstitutional by the district court and a panel of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals but the full appellate court, on its own motion, granted rehearing en banc. After oral argument in January 2021, the Fifth Circuit upheld the law—becoming the first federal court in the U.S. to uphold such a ban.
Doctors who violate the ban on the procedure will face up to two years in prison.
Major mainstream medical experts like the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) strongly oppose these types of bans, noting “these restrictions represent legislative interference at its worst: doctors will be forced, by ill-advised, unscientifically motivated policy, to provide lesser care to patients. This is unacceptable.”
Similar bans on D&E procedures have been blocked or are not being fully enforced in Alabama, Arkansas, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Ohio, and Oklahoma.
Plaintiff(s): Whole Woman’s Health, Planned Parenthood Center for Choice, Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas Surgical Health Services, Planned Parenthood South Texas Surgical Center, Alamo Women’s Reproductive Services, Southwestern Women’s Surgery Center, Reproductive Services, and several individual physicians.
Attorney(s): Molly Duane, T.J. Tu, Rabia Muqaddam, Alice Wang
Co-Counsel/Cooperating Attorneys: Melissa Cohen of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Austin attorney Patrick O’Connell and J. Alexander Lawrence of the law firm Morrison &, Foerster
Summary: The Center and its partners filed a lawsuit in federal district court on July 20, 2017 challenging a Texas measure banning the standard abortion procedure for abortion care after about 14-15 weeks of pregnancy. The district court entered a temporary restraining order on August 31, one day before the law was scheduled to take effect. Following a full trial on the merits of the law, the district court then issued a permanent injunction on November 22, striking the law down as unconstitutional.
The State immediately appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit and oral argument took place on November 5, 2018. On October 13, 2020, a three-judge panel at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court’s ruling that the law is unconstitutional. The full appellate court then took the highly unusual step of granting rehearing en banc on its own motion.
Following oral argument in January, in August 2021, the full appellate court upheld the Texas ban—becoming the first federal court in the U.S. to uphold such a ban. “At a time when the health care needs of Texans are greater than ever, the state should be making abortion more accessible, not less,” said Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center. “There is no question that today’s decision will harm those who already face the greatest barriers to health care.”
- Fifth Circuit En Banc Opinion, 08.18.21
- Fifth Circuit Panel Opinion, 10.13.20
- District Court Opinion Granting Permanent Injunction, 11.22.17
- Temporary Restraining Order, 08.31.17
- Complaint, 07.20.17