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Pro-choice protest at Supreme Court

Pro-choice demonstrators protest outside of the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, D.C. on November 1, 2021. (Photo: Yasin Ozturk/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Providers Accuse Federal Court of Delaying Texas Abortion Case, Ask SCOTUS to Intervene

"Countless people have already been forced to carry pregnancies against their will in a state with a severe maternal mortality crisis," said the ACLU.

Julia Conley

Reproductive rights advocates said Tuesday that women in Texas are suffering and their rights are being violated by the state's forced-pregnancy law as they called on the U.S. Supreme Court to intervene to end the delay of their lawsuit now languishing in a lower federal court.

"For 125 days, Texans have fled to find reproductive care. SCOTUS needs to act immediately and put an end to these delays."

In legal filings Monday night, the Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR) and other groups said a right-wing federal appeals court is unnecessarily delaying their case and demanded the court return their challenge to a district court judge.

When it ruled that S.B. 8 could stand in December—banning abortion care in the state past six weeks of pregnancy—the Supreme Court also decided that abortion providers in Texas could move forward with their challenge to the law. The providers were permitted to sue licensing officials to block them from enforcing S.B. 8, which also deputizes ordinary citizens and allows them to sue anyone who helps a pregnant person obtain abortion care.

The high court returned the case to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, which is dominated by conservative judges and has refused to send the case back to the district court which previously ruled in the providers' favor—a delay the ACLU condemned as "unconscionable, cruel, and downright dangerous."

In the weeks after S.B. 8 went into effect, Planned Parenthood in Oklahoma reported a 133% increase in patients from Texas, overwhelming clinics and leaving all patients with longer waits for healthcare.

"Countless people have already been forced to carry pregnancies against their will in a state with a severe maternal mortality crisis," said the ACLU.

The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals could prolong proceedings for months, advocates say, unless the Supreme Court requires the panel to return the case to the lower court.

"Absent intervention by the Court, the Fifth Circuit is poised to entertain questions already decided by the Court in direct violation of this Court's mandate and delay further resolution of this case in the district court by at least weeks, and potentially months or more," Marc Hearron, sebior counsel for the CRR, wrote in legal filings.

The CRR tweeted that it "won't stop fighting until Texas's unconstitutional law is blocked, for good."

The federal appeals court is set to hear arguments in the case on Friday.

"The Supreme Court must urgently step in to prevent the Fifth Circuit from needlessly delaying our lawsuit and compounding the harm this ban has already inflicted on Texans," said the ACLU. "Enough is enough."

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