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Federal Appeals Court Declines Request for New Hearing on Texas Ultrasound Law

Federal Appeals Court Declines Request for New Hearing on Texas Ultrasound Law

February 13, 2012 — The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Friday denied the Center for Reproductive Rights' request for a new hearing on a Texas law that requires doctors to perform an ultrasound, describe the fetus and give the woman the option of hearing the fetal heartbeat before providing an abortion, the Houston Chronicle reports. The court did not comment on its decision (Scharrer, Houston Chronicle, 2/10).

After a three-judge appeals court panel ruled that the state could begin enforcing the law, CRR requested a new hearing before the full 5th Circuit (Women's Health Policy Report, 1/25). The panel's decision overturned a ruling by U.S. District Court Judge Sam Sparks to temporarily block the law and sent the case back to him (Women's Health Policy Report, 2/7).

Last week, Sparks ruled that although he believes the law violates doctors' First Amendment rights, he is bound by the higher court's order to allow Texas to begin enforcing the statute. The state immediately began to do so.

CRR President and CEO Nancy Northup said, "Women's fundamental reproductive rights, and the First Amendment rights of their doctors, are now being violated on a daily basis because of this extreme and intrusive law, and it is disappointing that the full court has declined to consider their case" (Houston Chronicle, 2/10).