The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals will consider Texas’ ban on fetal dismemberment, reports the Texas Tribune.
In 2017, Texas legislators passed Senate Bill 8, which prohibited doctors from performing abortions via “dilation and evacuation”–grasping and extracting fetal tissue with surgical instruments. After a federal judge blocked the measure, Texas sought to reinstate the bill before the Fifth Circuit Court.
Justices on the court heard arguments from Texas attorneys and litigators from pro-abortion groups, including the Center for Reproductive Rights and Planned Parenthood. Texas assistant solicitor general Heather Gebelin Hacker deemed dilation and evacuation a “barbaric” procedure. “It’s illegal to kill an animal that way in Texas, we wouldn’t execute a murderer that way, and notably the abortion providers don’t tell women that that’s what the procedure entails,” Hacker stated.
Hacker noted that less harmful abortion methods, such as potassium chloride injections, have a proven safety record and are currently available at abortion clinics. Thus, Texas’ ban on fetal dismemberment would not affect abortion access in the state.
Center for Reproductive Rights counsel Janet Crepps, meanwhile, responded that the ban was “invasive” and “medically unnecessary,” and that potassium chloride injections increase patients’ risk for complications. “Just the idea the state thinks that’s what’s within its power is contrary to the whole idea that women have a right to autonomy, dignity,” Crepps added.
Judges on the Fifth Circuit Court asked litigators to interpret Alabama’s dilation and evacuation ban, which was struck down by the Eleventh circuit Court of Appeals. The justices also sought clarification on potassium chloride injections.
Whole Woman’s Health CEO Amy Hagstrom Miller told reporters after the hearing that alternative abortion methods, such as injections, are “absolutely not the standard of care.” Referring to Alabama’s failed dilation and evacuation law, Miller stated, “I really lean on the fact that a [dilation and evacuation] ban hasn’t withstood these kind of proceedings to date.”
Emily Horne, a senior legislative associate for Texas Right to Life, expressed a different view. “It comes down to we’re really talking about a modest restriction on a very brutal abortion procedure while the child is alive,” she said.
Observers expect the court to issue its ruling in the next few months.
A group of bakers decided to help their community when they saw that they were stranded due to the waters of hurricane Harvey.
Four bakers of the El Bolillo Bakery in Houston, Texas, were about to head home from a late shift when they saw they couldn’t leave safely due to flooded streets. Rather than worry, the bakers decided to keep the ovens going and bake hundreds of loaves for the hurricane victims.
The bakery’s electricity lasted through the day and night, as they baked Mexican pastries and breads particular to the shop’s specialty. The bakers used over four thousand pounds of flour by the time rescue workers arrived.
After baking all that bread, the El Bolillo distributed the bread to emergency shelters all around Houston.
The Texas Board of Education has endorsed 89 books and classroom software packages that retain or add “excellent content about our nation’s rich religious heritage.”
The ten Republicans on the board voted for approval; the five Democrats against it. Texas students will begin using the new materials next school year.
Board chairwoman Barbara Cargill is reportedly “pleased with the final vote.”
“The publishers stood strong against those who wanted excellent content about our country’s rich religious heritage not only revised but eliminated,” Cargill said.
Heavily debated passages include one that explains the Biblical covenant concept and how it became part of America’s Constitution. Another passage discusses Moses and the Ten Commandments and how these have influenced justice systems throughout the world.
52 college professors, as well as many liberal activists, adamantly opposed the board’s decision. One professor claimed, “your textbooks exaggerate and even invent claims about the influence of Moses and the ‘Judeo-Christian’ tradition on our nation’s founding and on Western political traditions.”
The Truth in Texas Textbooks Coalition plans to work with parents and students to decide which of the textbooks are most accurate.
A survey conducted Monday, October 20 by Operation Rescue reported that five Texas abortion clinics remain closed despite the Supreme Court blocking the pro-life law HB2 and temporarily allowing clinics to reopen.
“Last week’s Supreme Court ruling is only a temporary one that is pending the outcome of the state’s appeal in the Fifth Circuit. We remain confident that the full Fifth Circuit will uphold HB2, then the abortion facilities that reopened will once again shut down,” said Troy Newman, President of Operation Rescue.
Earlier this month, the Fifth Circuit of Court Appeals ordered the closure of 14 abortion facilities for failing to comply with HB2’s safety standards. This was a response to a lower court declaring HB2 as unconstitutional and undue burden on women seeking abortions earlier this summer.
The U.S. Supreme Court then blocked the Fifth Circuit’s decision on October 14, which allowed the clinics to reopen.
“The courts’ various rulings has put us on a roller coaster ride of emotions. Certainly we are not happy that nine facilities that cannot meet minimum safety standards remain dangerously open, but we remain optimistic that a permanent victory is forthcoming,” said Newman.
As of now, five clinics remain closed:
International Health Solutions in Austin
Hilltop Reproductive Health Services in El Paso
Whole Women’s Health in Ft. Worth
AAA Concerned Women’s Center in Houston
Aalto Women’s Center in Houston
It appears that both Houston facilities have shut down permanently, while the three others are attempting to reopen. Some clinics, such as Whole Women’s Health in Ft. Worth, no longer have leases or state licenses, making it difficult to reopen.
The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals may hear the case as early as this December.
Emily Horne of Texas Right to Life remains positive regarding the case. “The encouraging thing for us is that this case is still before the 5th Circuit, and the 5th Circuit has already said a lot of positive things about the state’s merit and likelihood of success. And none of that actually changed with what the Supreme Court said,” said Horne.
Texas’ pro-life law requiring abortion clinics observe certain safety regulations is out for now, according to the Supreme Court.
Supreme Court halts pro-life law
The Texas law requires abortion clinics to be within thirty miles of a hospital so that a patient with an emergency could be transported to a nearby surgical center. The District Court ruled the law unconstitutional as an undue burden on a woman’s right to choose under the Fourteenth Amendment.
During the time it was enforced, the law succeeded in shutting down fourteen abortion clinics in the state and preventing an estimated 9,900 abortions, cutting abortions in Texas by 13 percent.
The Court of Appeals permitted the state to continue enforcing its law until the case was resolved.
The Supreme Court overruled, meaning that the law cannot be enforced in the meantime. With three dissenting justices, the Court ruled that the state will have to allow the fourteen abortion clinics to reopen until the case is finally resolved.
The Court has not yet determined when or if the entire case will be settled on its merits. Until then, Texas will reopen its abortion clinics and leave its law unenforced.