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Illinois Legislation Update 4-1-22

The Illinois General Assembly is considering several bills that pose a threat to the right to life. HB1464 would prohibit Illinois official...

April 28, 2022

Fifth Circuit Instructs Texas Court to Dismiss Lawsuit Challenging Texas Heartbeat Act

The Texas Heartbeat Act's unique enforcement method has allowed the law to survive legal challenges for several months. On April 25, that streak continued.

Texas's Heartbeat Act empowers private citizens to file lawsuits against those who knowingly commit or enable abortions against children with detectable heartbeats. This effectively bans abortion after six weeks.

A three-judge panel from the US Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ordered a district court to dismiss the abortion industry's primary lawsuit challenging the law. The US Supreme Court has seen this lawsuit twice; ruling that the defendants named were not valid. Because the law is enforced by private citizens, the court ruled that some of the state agencies named were not valid defendants.

This lawsuit was sent back to a district court, after which it made its way up to the Texas Supreme Court with a similar question. The Texas Supreme court ruled that the remaining defendants were not legitimate. Now the Fifth Circuit has used that ruling to inform its decision to order that the lawsuit finally be dismissed.

According to Texas Right to Life, 22 lawsuits were filed against the Heartbeat Act after its passage. While one of these lawsuits could still overturn the law, the Heartbeat Act has effectively reduced abortions in the state by 50% since enforcement started.