AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Texas can continue banning most abortions after a federal appeals court on Thursday rejected the Biden administration’s latest attempt to undo a novel law that has become the nation’s biggest curb to abortion in nearly 50 years.

This allows Texas to return to the U.S. Supreme Court. In September, the court allowed Texas to ban abortions after cardiac activity has been detected. It usually takes around six weeks. Incest or rape are excluded from the ban.

Texas residents have searched for abortion centers in nearby states ever since, sometimes driving up to midnight and including children as young as twelve years.

New decision from the U.S. 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals extended a prior order which for the time keeps in force Senate Bill 8 from Texas. This is the third consecutive time that the conservative-leaning appels court has granted Texas a favorable ruling and allowed the restrictions to stand.

Texas abortion providers and the Justice Department have a limited path of trying to repeal the law. The unique structure, however, leaves enforcement upto private citizens. A successful suit against an abortion provider is eligible to receive at least $10,000 in damages. The Biden administration claims this amount to a bounty.

Despite numerous legal challenges both before and after the law took effect Sept. 1, only once has a court moved to put the restriction on hold — and that order only stood for 48 hours.

Some Texas clinics attempted to do abortions in that short window. However, many other appointments were cancelled after the 5th Circuit swiftly restored the law. Now, the Biden administration can seek a rehearing of the case or directly to Supreme Court. This is similar to August’s unsuccessful attempts at abortion.

Texas has approximately twenty-six abortion clinics. The law was in effect when Texas’s operators opened them.

In the coming months, the stakes for the U.S.’s future abortion rights are already high. In December, the new conservative majority on the Supreme Court will hear Mississippi’s bid to overturn the landmark Roe v. Wade decision that guarantee’s a person’s right to an abortion.

The Supreme Court in 1992 ruled that states cannot ban abortion before viability. This is the time at which the foetus can live outside of the womb. It occurs around 24 weeks into a pregnancy. But Texas’ version has outmaneuvered courts so far due to the fact that it offloads enforcement to private citizens.

Texas Right to Life, the state’s largest anti-abortion group, set up a tipline to receive allegations against abortion providers but has not filed any lawsuits.


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