LOUISIANA (CBSDFW.COM) - The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit will hear oral argument in an appeal brought by the state challenging a previous federal district court ruling striking down the state's ban of the most common method of ending a pregnancy after 15 weeks in Texas.
The case—Whole Woman's Health v. Paxton—was brought by Whole Woman's Health, several Planned Parenthood Affiliates in Texas, and other Texas healthcare providers who said the method is the safest way to have an abortion during the second trimester.
The challenged measure is part of SB8, a sweeping anti-abortion bill passed in 2017 as part of a coordinated national strategy by anti-abortion politicians. States have passed nearly 400 restrictions on abortion since 2011, with Texas alone passing 22 restrictions since 2010.
Every court to have considered a similar ban has blocked it, including in Alabama, Arkansas, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Kentucky. Leading medical experts such as the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists also oppose this type of ban.
This case was filed in July 2017, shortly after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down Texas' clinic shutdown law in Whole Woman's Health v. Hellerstedt—a challenge also brought by Whole Woman's Health represented by the Center for Reproductive Rights.
In its 2016 ruling in Whole Woman's Health, the Supreme Court made clear that abortion restrictions must clear a very high constitutional bar, and that laws designed to cut off abortion access or unduly burden women without countervailing benefits are unconstitutional and must be struck down.
The U.S. Supreme Court has affirmed a person's fundamental right to access safe, legal abortion time and again.
Republican Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is a staunch abortion opponent. His office has asked lawmakers to consider expanding the attorney general's power to enforce abortion laws on the books.
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