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What’s Next for the Anti-Abortion Bill?

Photo: Courtesy photo, License: N/A

Courtesy photo

Judge Edith Jones is one of several conservatives on the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals

In other words, the precedent is there—each of the four parts of Texas’ all-in-one bill have been deemed unconstitutional by other courts. That being said, the legal landscape in Texas may make the climb a bit steeper.

The notoriously conservative U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals hasn’t ruled favorably for reproductive rights advocates in Texas, instead the New Orleans-based appellate court is often seen as a green light for anti-choice activists.

For instance, after CRR challenged abortion restrictions in 2011, the Court upheld the law requiring women to hear the fetal heartbeat and view a sonogram image of the fetus before an abortion, striking down a lower district court’s ruling of unconstitutionality. In a months-long volley, a three-judge panel of the Court also ruled Texas could exclude Planned Parenthood from the Women’s Health Program, a Medicaid service for low-income women.

Blake Rocap, legislative counsel with NARAL Pro-Choice Texas, told the Current he expects the bill to be challenged in court. His sense is that the Fifth Circuit’s decision is very much contingent upon which judges are assigned on the panel hearing the case.

For instance, one name that would ensure the law’s passage is Judge Edith Jones, a stalwart of the anti-abortion right, who considered the sonogram law helpful to women. On that note, Jones is currently facing a possible judicial conduct investigation for allegedly making racist remarks, clouding the panel prediction for now.

Ultimately, Rocap says that given precedent and bill authors’ inability to deliver scientific evidence to back up claims, the end result could mean a victory for pro-choice Texans.

“[C]onsidering prior rulings and the Texas Legislature’s failure to provide any facts to show how these restrictions are related to any governmental interest, I wouldn’t be surprised if they were all struck.”

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