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Texas Abortion Appeal Reaches Fifth Circuit Court of Appeal

Appeal Arguments on Abortion

Appeal Arguments on AbortionOnce again, Texas abortion clinics have found themselves in the courtroom. And as before, they are fighting a battle just to keep their doors open. In fact, this time critics claim that the most recent legislative initiative would close at least half of the Lone Star States abortion clinics. The new law is currently under review by a three-judge panel sitting for the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. Most notably, this law requires that each clinic have at least seven thousand square feet and that each of the practitioners have the ability to admit patients at a hospital. Additionally, that hospital must be within thirty miles of every clinic. Although Texas abortion practitioners are no strangers to lengthy legal battles, this particular law threatens to close the already diminished number of available facilities.

The History

Early last year, in January, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit heard arguments questioning whether Texas latest abortion law was constitutional. House Bill 2, the same bill currently being debated, was highly publicized and drew national attention. That law resulted in closings for many of Texas clinics. At that time the state argued that this measure was constitutional as these means were necessary to advance the states interest in protecting fetal life. The United States District Court for the Western District of Texas struck down the states anti-abortion measure posed in House Bill 2 back in August of 2014. At that time Texas had only 19 abortion clinics and the result of the Bill would have been to close more than half. Once again, the question was whether these new rules placed an undue burden on women seeking an abortion. In October of last year the United States Supreme Court put a hold on House Bill 2. The Justices order was unsigned and without explanation. This move by SCOTUS allowed for the immediate reopening of the dozen clinics that were forced to close.

The Current Debate

Many Americans are well aware of the status of the debate over whether or not abortion should be permitted. Oftentimes Americans are not as well acquainted with the legal discussion regarding whether or not abortion is unconstitutional. Much of the confusion results from the Supreme Courts very narrow and rare rulings on the subject. In 1992 in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, the Supreme Court ruled that its previous ruling that prevented any state involved in abortion before the second trimester was erroneous. This ruling set a framework that allowed states to set laws regulating abortion so long as the laws do not present an undue burden to the woman or create a substantial obstacle. This is the model that legal abortion disputes are still validated under. The court has given examples of what constitutes an undue burden: requiring a married woman to obtain her husbands consent, lengthy waiting periods, or requiring a minor to obtain the permission of both of her parents. While abortion most commonly tends to resonate as a moral issue, these are the legal parameters that the Texas debate finds itself in. At Brownstone Law, we hope for a peaceful resolution of this appeal.

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