The United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit ruled against the Texas Dismemberment Abortion Ban, upholding the district court ruling that blocked enforcement of the Pro-Life law. After a three-year wait, the decision by the three-judge panel is disappointing and demonstrates the need for judges who follow the strictest interpretation of the Constitution. However, Texas must continue the legal battle to force a federal circuit court split, pressuring the Supreme Court of the United States to evaluate the merits of the law.
Texas exercised the state interest in protecting preborn children from torturous dismemberment abortions, a method that kills preborn children by tearing them apart limb by limb. Thus, the Legislature banned the procedure in 2017. Shortly before the law took effect, the abortion industry sued to stop enforcement, as they do with nearly every Pro-Life law.
After the Supreme Court’s ruling in June Medical Services v. Russo this summer, Judges Dennis and Stewart, both appointed by Clinton, argued the Dismemberment Abortion Ban imposed an “undue burden” on women. Conversely, Judge Don Willet found the arguments promoted by the abortion industry unpersuasive. He will soon file his dissenting opinion.
As Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas implored last year, states must pass life-saving laws to facilitate a split among federal appellate courts. The State of Texas is expected to appeal en banc, meaning all 17 judges of the circuit court would hear the case. The district court and three-judge panel failed to answer the case’s dynamic legal question: Is a dismemberment abortion inhumane enough to warrant legal prohibition? The answer to this question directly undermines much of the Supreme Court’s central premises in their abortion jurisprudence, such as the notion that pre-viability abortions are more ethical than those that occur after viability. A ruling in favor of the Dismemberment Abortion Ban would compel the Supreme Court to address this question.
Texas must continue pushing for strong Pro-Life laws—both in the Legislature and through the courts—that directly challenge the faulty foundation upon which Roe v. Wade was decided. Texas Right to Life looks forward to continuing the legal battle, starting with appealing en banc the unjust ruling by the three-judge panel.