(PRESS RELEASE) Without allowing opponents
of an extreme Texas anti-abortion law time to properly respond, the U.S. Fifth
Circuit Court of Appeals has granted Texas state officials’ request to make the
appellate court’s decision
from Tuesday—which overturned a district court’s block of key provisions of
a Texas law forcing doctors to give women seeking abortions ultrasound
Today’s order comes less than one day after the
state filed the request and before the Center for Reproductive Rights or its
co-counsel and clients could file papers detailing their objections.
“There is no justification for Texas to have
insisted on the immediate enforcement of this intrusive and demeaning law, nor
the court of appeals to have granted it without giving us an opportunity to be
heard,” said Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive
Rights. “Texas reproductive health providers and the women they serve deserve
to be treated the same as anyone else seeking a fair hearing from our courts.”
It is not yet clear when the state will begin
enforcing the previously-enjoined provisions.
U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks granted
a preliminary injunction in August 2011 against the enforcement of the
law’s requirement that doctors show women seeking abortions their ultrasound
images, describe the images in detail, and play the sound of the fetal
heartbeat even when a woman chooses not to receive the information and when the
physician believes it is inappropriate and unethical to deliver it.
On Tuesday, a panel on the Fifth Circuit overturned
Judge Sparks’ preliminary injunction. According to the court’s own rules, an
order from an appellate court normally does not take effect until 22 days
There will be a summary judgment hearing before
Judge Sparks on the Center’s request to permanently enjoin the provisions next
Friday, January 20. The Center for Reproductive Rights is currently evaluating
all available means of continuing to challenge this and all laws that seek to
undermine women’s fundamental rights.
The Center filed
a class action in June 2011 against the ultrasound requirements on behalf
of Texas medical providers performing abortions and their patients. The Center
requested a preliminary injunction shortly thereafter, arguing that the
ultrasound requirements violated the First Amendment rights of both the doctor
and the patient by forcing physicians to deliver politically-motivated
communications to women, even if she declines. The Center also argued that the
law discriminates against women by subjecting them to paternalistic
“protections” not imposed on men.
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.