Federal court dismisses challenges to Texas abortion law’s private enforcement provision


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A federal court has dismissed all challenges Tuesday to a provision in a controversial Texas‘ “fetal heart beat” abortion ban.

The U.S. 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals sent the legal challenge against the six-week abortion ban back to the state Supreme Court with orders to dismiss all challenges. 

“Having received the ruling of the Texas Supreme Court that named official defendants may not enforce the provisions of the Texas Heartbeat Act… this court REMANDS the case with instructions to dismiss all challenges to the private enforcement provisions of the statute and to consider whether plaintiffs have standing to challenge,” the ruling said. 

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The Texas Heartbeat Act, also known as Senate Bill 8, was originally signed into law in May 2021 and empowers private citizens to sue anyone suspected of aiding or abetting an abortion after fetal cardiac activity is detected, usually after six weeks of pregnancy. 

In March, the Texas Supreme Court ruled that state medical licensing clinics don’t have the authority to enforce the law. Weeks earlier, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to intervene in the matter, leaving abortion providers with a narrow path to victory and an uphill battle. 

“The Court concludes that the petitioners may pursue a pre-enforcement challenge against certain of the named defendants but not others,” the court wrote at the time, led by Justice Neil Gorsuch.

David Trujillo holds a sign a bus drives by on the street in front of a building housing an abortion provider in Dallas, Thursday, Oct. 7, 2021. 
(AP Photo/LM Otero)

In a tweet, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott praised Tuesday’s ruling and the “the pro-life law that is saving babies every day.”

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton also celebrated the court’s decision. 

“Very proud of my team for bringing win after win for the unborn in Texas! The Texas Heartbeat Act is one of the greatest pro-life laws in the nation, and I’m glad to defend it,” he wrote. “Tens of thousands of babies have been saved in Texas because of SB 8 and our victories in court!”

On Monday, the Texas Equal Access Fund, which raises funds for those seeking the procedure simply tweeted: “There’s nothing wrong with abortion.”

Since taking effect, abortions have plummeted in Texas, one of several states dominated by conservatives that have past similar restrictions on abortions. 

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Fox News’ Thomas Barrabi contributed to this report. 



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