Abortion Clinics Fear Setback as Lawsuit Against Heartbeat Act Moves to Texas Supreme Court

Woman with baby in arms
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A federal appeals court ruled Monday the lawsuit by abortion providers against the Texas Heartbeat Act must move to the conservative-leaning Texas Supreme Court, rather than back to a federal court in Austin that has been the only court to block the law restricting abortions in the state.

“There is now no end in sight for this injustice that has been allowed to go on for almost five months,” Nancy Northup, CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights, which brought the lawsuit challenging the Texas law, said, as reported by the Associated Press.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit certified the Texas Supreme Court to take over the case of Whole Woman’s Health v. Jackson.

Texas Right to Life celebrated the decision:

This is great news for Texas because such action is more likely to ensure a just and favorable ruling, compared to that which could be expected from a pro-abortion federal district judge, to whom the abortion industry asked to send the case. Beyond this, sending the lawsuit to the Supreme Court of Texas is appropriate because the only defendants left in the case are state agencies.

“Most exciting of all is that the Texas Heartbeat Act has withstood another court decision and is continuing to save an estimated 100 preborn lives every day!” the pro-life group stated.

On September 1, Texas became the first state in the nation to enforce a “heartbeat” abortion law that bans abortion once a fetal heartbeat is detected, generally at six weeks of pregnancy.

Other states have passed “heartbeat” bills, but, once signed into law, abortion rights activists filed lawsuits challenging them. Subsequently, courts have blocked these laws, ruling them unconstitutional in light of the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1973 ruling in Roe v. Wade and subsequent decisions.

The Texas measure, however, contains a unique enforcement mechanism whereby any private citizen may file a civil lawsuit against an abortion provider or any other individual who “aids or abets” a “criminal abortion.”

“Any person can sue any abortion provider who kills an unborn child after six weeks of gestation—and any person can sue anyone who aids or abets these illegal abortions,” Texas Right to Life said about the provision. “All of these individuals must pay damages to the person who sued them of at least $10,000 for each illegal abortion that they perform or assist.”

In December, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled the Texas Heartbeat Act (S.B. 8) may remain in effect while the abortion providers challenging it continue with their lawsuit against it.

Other Republican-led states have moved to pass pro-life measures similar to the Texas law.

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