On Tuesday, a three judge panel of the Fifth US Circuit Court of Appeals ruled to uphold a Texas law requiring that doctors describe ultrasounds in detail and play the sound of the fetal heartbeat, if a heartbeat is present, to women seeking abortions. In doing so, the Fifth Circuit overturned Federal District Court Judge Sam Sparks' August preliminary injunction blocking enforcement of the law.
The case was filed by the Center for Reproductive Rights on behalf of Texas medical providers challenging Texas' new abortion ultrasound law, which was scheduled to take effect September 1, in June. The Center for Reproductive Rights claims that the law violates patients' and doctors' First Amendment Rights by requiring "physicians to violate basic standards of medical ethics by compelling them to disregard the wishes of patients who do not want to receive this information."
Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights, stated, "One of the most extreme mandatory ultrasound laws in the nation has now led to an extreme court decision on this issue. This clears the way for the enforcement of an insulting and intrusive law whose sole purpose is to harass women and dissuade them from exercising their constitutionally protected reproductive rights. Until today, every court that has reviewed similarly intrusive laws has ruled the laws unconstitutional."
The Center for Reproductive Rights can file for a rehearing within the next 14 days.
Media Resources: Wall Street Journal 1/12/12; New York Times 1/11/12; Statement of the Center for Reproductive Rights 1/10/12; Feminist Daily Newswire 8/31/11
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SisterReach, a grassroots organization focused on "empowering, organizing, and mobilizing women and girls in the community around their reproductive and sexual health to make informed decisions about themselves," organized the press conference "to call attention to the unique concerns Black and poor communities throughout Shelby County and across the state of Tennessee face on a daily basis" and to emphasize how the upcoming election "could further limit [black women's] reproductive, economic, political, and social autonomy."
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