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Appeals court rules that Texas can ban specific abortion procedure in second trimester

by Premier Journalist
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Reuters / Liliana Engelbrecht

In Texas, an appeals court has ruled that one of the most common procedures for abortions in the second trimester can now be limited by law. 

In 2017, Texas lawmakers ruled that doctors must use "fetal demise" method, where the abortion doctor would stop the heart beating within the fetus before completing a dilation-and-evacuation procedure. A D&E procedure is a standard abortion procedure in many states during the first trimester.

Abortion advocates later sued Texas over the law in 2017, claiming that the fetal demise requirement is impossible to complete for many abortion clinics and that it would lead to several sites closing down.

The plaintiffs, representing the Center for Reproductive Rights and Planned Parenthood on behalf of Whole Woman's Health, also argued that this additional practice is medically unnecessary and would lead to women being experimented on in the process. The law was struck down by district judges in Austin alongside a three-judge panel in the 5th U.S Circuit Court of Appeals last October. 

However, the appeals court believes that medical professionals can perform the fetal demise provision with minimal restrictions based on the ruling.

When Texas lawmakers passed the bill, it was described as a method to make abortion more humane since fetuses are understood to feel pain as early as 24 weeks. To not do this would be to engage in "dismemberment abortions", a term used by local lawmakers to describe any procedure where the heart is still beating. Current Texas law bans any form of abortion after 22 weeks.

While the law has never officially gone into effect, experts anticipate that the Supreme Court will consider the lawsuit in the near future.

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