Texas Mandatory Ultrasound Law Still Not Going Into Effect


Earlier this week, the Texas law mandating all women must have an ultrasound and have the image described to them in detail before obtaining an abortion had a temporary injunction dismissed via the 5th circuit appeals court.

But that doesn’t mean that women are having to go through with the new rule.  At least, not yet.

Via the Austin American Statesman:

On Tuesday, the circuit’s Chief Judge Edith H. Jones issued a judicial opinion saying the doctors had not proven that Texas was violating their First Amendment rights to free speech, and therefore Sparks’ order to block enforcement was premature. But Jones did not issue a mandate ending that injunction and won’t for at least 14 days, giving the doctors who are represented by the Center for Reproductive Rights time to appeal her ruling.

The center could ask for a rehearing of the case by the full Fifth Circuit. Under court rules, though, a group must convince a majority of the judges that Jones made “an error of exceptional public importance or an opinion that directly conflicts with prior Supreme Court, Fifth Circuit or state law precedent,” an extremely high legal standard to meet. Only 1 percent of cases are reheard in this way, according to court documents, and most of those are at the suggestion of one of the judges.

If the center won a rehearing, Jones’ ruling would no longer be valid. The center could also appeal Jones’ ruling to the Supreme Court and ask that the law remain on hold pending a ruling there. Nancy Northrup, the center’s president, said they are studying their options.

“Until now, every court that has reviewed similarly intrusive laws has declared them unconstitutional because they violate the First Amendment,” she said. “But the law could potentially go into effect at the end of this month.”

If there is no rehearing, the court issues a legal mandate eight days after the appeal period making Jones’ ruling binding on Jan. 31.

According to the paper, if the rule does eventually become law, there will still be a 30 day period before it is enforced, in order to allow clinics and physicians to do what they need to in order to prepare for the change.

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