Plaintiffs Slam ‘Discriminatory Attack’ As Appeals Court Defends ‘Common’ Form of Abortion Texas Ban
A Texas law, passed in 2017 but yet to be enforced due to legal wrangles, known as Senate Bill 8, prohibits a dilation-and-evacuation abortion method, deemed a standard procedure in second-trimester pregnancies. It requires doctors to resort to alternative abortion methods instead.
The US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit on Wednesday upheld a 2017 Texas law banning an abortion
method widely considered to be a standard procedure in second-trimester pregnancies, reported The Texas Tribune.
In a majority opinion, the judges ruled in favour of Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) and other defendants in the case, defending the law, which has never been enforced due to the legal battles it has been mired in.
Known as Senate Bill 8 (SB8) in court records, the law prohibits a dilation-and-evacuation abortion method, requiring doctors to use alternative methods. Supporters of the law refer to the “barbaric” procedure as a “dismemberment abortion”.
Earlier, a Federal District Court judge found that the law “imposes an undue burden on a large fraction of women” as it “amounted to a ban on all D&E abortions”. The Wednesday ruling by the federal appeals court, however, determined that that interpretation was wrong.
“Doctors can safely perform D&Es and comply with SB8 using methods that are already in widespread use,” according to the ruling.
Despite judges of the same federal appeals court having struck down the law last year, blocking its enforcement, this time they stated that viewing the law “through a binary framework—that either D&Es can be done only by live dismemberment or else women cannot receive abortions in the second trimester—is to accept a false dichotomy”.
The method of dilation and evacuation has been vehemently defended by abortion advocates as one of the safest methods applied in the second trimester of pregnancy. This opinion is shared by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists in a statement dated 2019. They said the “medically preferred” method results in the fewest complications for women in the second trimester, and that fetuses cannot feel pain until 24 weeks. During a dilation and evacuation abortion, doctors use use surgical instruments to remove pieces of fetal tissue.
One of the plaintiffs in the case, Amy Hagstrom Miller, president of Whole Woman’s Health organization, denounced the Texas ban as effectively “cutting off abortion access, and nothing else.”
Planned Parenthood President and CEO Alexis McGill Johnson branded the ruling by the appeals court as “a discriminatory attack against people of colour, people with low incomes, women, and those in rural communities”.
McGill vowed to continue efforts to fight “this dangerous ban in every way possible”.
This comes as a “six-week ban” is looming, set to take effect in Texas in September.
That law, dubbed the "Heartbeat Bill", signed by Gov. Greg Abbott in May, would prohibit abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected. The latter, according to medics, can occur as early as six weeks. Abortion rights advocates have promised to challenge the new law.
The current Texas case may reach the Supreme Court
amid a plethora of abortion restrictions enacted in recent years by Republican-controlled state legislatures. The Supreme Court is set to hear arguments in autumn over a Mississippi law
that bans most abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy and is seen as a challenge to the landmark 1973 Supreme Court judgement, referred to as the Roe v Wade case.
At the time, abortions were made legal across the United States as a constitutional right. The Supreme Court's ruling came as a single woman, under the pseudonym "Jane Roe", challenged the abortion laws in Texas that forbade abortion as unconstitutional except in cases where the mother's life was in danger.
Accordingly, the court’s decision was based on the premise that a woman's right to terminate her pregnancy fell under the freedom of personal choice in family matters as protected by the 14th Amendment of the US Constitution.