When Texas Judge Sam Sparks put an injunction on a bill that would require all women to undergo an ultrasound before an abortion, listen to a detailed account of the attributes of the embryo or fetus, and hear the heartbeat, the case was quickly appealed to the 5th circuit to review. The panel of three judges declared that there were no constitutional issues with injecting government into the doctor/patient relationship or mandating the doctor’s speech, and overturned Spark’s decision.
Traditionally, a court provides a small window of time before making a law go into effect. Head Judge Edith Jones was expected to allow at least 14 days from the decision to let defendants file an appeal. And at the very least, it was assumed that clinics and doctors would have until the end of the month in order to get into compliance. But instead, Jones ruled on Friday the 13th, just three days after the decision was reversed, that the law will go into effect immediately.
The Center for Reproductive Rights, who has been representing the doctors in the case, were shocked. “There is no justification for Texas to have insisted on the immediate enforcement of this intrusive and demeaning law, nor the court of appeals to have granted it without giving us an opportunity to be heard,” said Nancy Northup, president of the center. “Texas reproductive health providers and the women they serve deserve to be treated the same as anyone else seeking a fair hearing from our courts.”
Yet it shouldn’t be surprising that the state went for immediate enforcement, despite on going court battle. After all, this legislation was submitted as an “emergency bill” by Texas Governor Rick Perry. The big emergency? He was running for president and needed a strong anti-choice record to show to the evangelicals in Iowa.
Centers and clinics are making moves already to adhere to the new law, which will add additional expense and waiting to an already costly and hard to access procedure. Meanwhile, the ruling will still be appealed, and will likely end up in front of the U.S. Supreme Court.
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