The complex and historical 2021 legal proceedings surrounding the Texas Heartbeat Act (SB8), the nation’s most restrictive abortion law, continue into the new year. The legal proceedings for SB8 moving forward are even more confusing and uncertain because both federal and state courts are concurrently hearing challenges to the law.
U.S. SUPREME COURT DECEMBER 10 RULING: As we previously relayed, on December 10 the Supreme Court of the United States released its much anticipated ruling on SB8 in Whole Woman’s Health v. Jackson. (Read the SCOTUS Opinion HERE.) SB8 prohibits abortion when a baby’s heartbeat is detected at about six weeks. The Texas Heartbeat Act uniquely provides private citizens rather than state officials the right to bring lawsuits against anyone who aids and abets an illegal abortion. Consequently, the law has withstood legal challenges.The SCOTUS decision several weeks ago left SB8 in place for now, but allowed abortion providers to move forward with their lawsuit in the lower courts. The High Court ruled that abortion providers could not sue state court judges, state court clerks or Attorney General Ken Paxton, leaving only certain Texas licensing officials as defendants. Abortion providers requested that the high court return the case to U.S. District Court Judge Robert Pitman. Pitman previously sided with abortion providers by blocking SB8 on the grounds that the law violates the constitutional right to abortion.
U.S. SUPREME COURT DECEMBER 16 ORDER: However, in an order signed by Justice Neil Gorsuch on December 16, SCOTUS returned SB8 to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit instead of Judge Pitman. (Read the SCOTUS Order HERE.) Notably, in October the Fifth Circuit overturned Pitman’s order to block SB8.
U.S. FIFTH CIRCUIT DECEMBER 27 ORDER: Last Monday the 27th, the New Orleans based Fifth Circuit released an order setting the date of this Friday, January 7, for a three-judge panel to hear oral arguments. The panel will address whether Texas licensing officials remaining are the correct defendants in the challenge to SB8’s constitutionality and whether the Texas Supreme Court should be involved regarding certification. (Read the 5th Circuit Order HERE.) In a vigorous dissent to last Monday’s order, Fifth Circuit Judge Stephen Higginson said the case should be immediately remanded to the U.S. District Court instead. Higginson will be joined on this Friday’s three-judge panel by Fifth Circuit Judges Edith H. Jones and Kyle Duncan.
TEXAS STATE COURT CHALLENGE: A state judge recently ruled in another legal challenge to SB8 brought by abortion clinics across Texas that the Heartbeat Act is unconstitutional. State District Court Judge David Peeples ruled that SB8 violates both the U.S and Texas Constitution, but he did not block the law’s enforcement. (Read the State Judge Ruling HERE.)
We continue to be thankful to God that 2021 ended and 2022 has begun with the Heartbeat Act still in effect, and for now unborn babies in Texas with a detectable heartbeat will be protected. It is estimated that as many as 16,000 babies in Texas have been saved since the Heartbeat Act went into effect.
Please join us as we continue to pray for:
- Many unborn babies’ lives in Texas to be saved by the continued enforcement of the Texas Heartbeat Act.
- Abortion-minded and determined women in Texas to seek care from life-affirming pregnancy resource centers in our state rather than traveling to other states like Oklahoma, Louisiana and Kansas to terminate their pregnancies.
- Abortion clinics in Texas to be forced to close.
- Hearts and minds of abortion providers and proponents determined to strike down the Texas Heartbeat Act and other abortion restrictive laws to be transformed to value and love every unborn child.
- The U.S. Supreme Court, the Fifth Circuit, the Texas Supreme Court and ALL Judges to see clearly the irrefutable humanity of the unborn and that innocent life in the womb should be protected from the unspeakable horror and barbaric practice of abortion.
- The case of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization now before SCOTUS addressing the constitutionality of Mississppi’s Gestational Age Act that prohibits abortion after 15 weeks to overturn Roe v. Wade.
- The more than 63 million babies that have been aborted in the United States since the nearly 50 yer old Roe decision came down.
- God’s protection over our country, state and government and judicial leaders and ALL who courageously stand for the unborn.