January 25, 2012 — The Center for Reproductive Rights has requested a new hearing before the full 5th Circuit Court of Appeals over the legality of a Texas antiabortion-rights law, Politico Pro reports. Earlier this month, a three-judge panel on the court ruled that the state could begin enforcing the law, which requires doctors to perform an ultrasound, describe the fetus and give the woman the option to hear the fetal heartbeat before providing abortion care.
Kate Bernyk, a CRR spokesperson, said a majority of the 17 active judges on the 5th Circuit would have to agree with the center's request in order for a new hearing to occur (Smith, Politico Pro, 1/24).
CRR will have to convince a majority of the judges that the three-judge panel's decision deals with an issue "of exceptional public importance or [was] an opinion that directly conflicts with prior Supreme Court, 5th Circuit or state law precedent." According to court documents, only about 1% of cases are reheard this way (Women's Health Policy Report, 1/12).
In the meantime, CRR President and CEO Nancy Northup said the center will "be continuing to look for every able legal mechanism to keep the injunction in place."
Northup added, "The entire reproductive-rights community is concerned." She said, "They're aware that this is the first court that has rejected the idea that these laws violate the First Amendment" (Politico Pro, 1/24).
Repro Health Watch — an exciting new edition of the Women’s Health Policy Report — compiles and distributes media coverage of proposed and enacted state laws and ballot initiatives affecting women's access to comprehensive reproductive health care, as well as litigation in response to those provisions.