December 29, 2021

Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals to Hear Questions on Texas Heartbeat Act

The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals agreed to hear arguments regarding whether it should ask the Texas Supreme Court to answer questions about Texas's Heartbeat Act.

The Heartbeat Act bans abortion after the baby's heartbeat is detectable, which usually occurs at six weeks gestation. The law is unique because it empowers individuals to file lawsuits against those who violate the law by participating in the abortions of protected babies. For this reason, it has withstood legal challenges and remained enforceable for the time being.

Texas officials have asked the court to have the Texas Supreme Court clarify whether they are the proper defendants of lawsuits challenging the constitutionality of the Heartbeat Act. The US Supreme Court ruled earlier this month that abortion businesses couldn't sue state judges, county clerks, or the state's attorney general. This left Texas administrative officials as the only defendants.

“The court has decided that oral argument is appropriate before ruling on the state’s motion to certify or alternate motion to set a briefing schedule, and the response thereto,” the Fifth Circuit wrote.

That briefing is scheduled for Jan 7.