NEW ORLEANS — A federal appeals court on Monday steered a decision about Texas’ strict abortion law to the state’s Republican-majority Supreme Court, dealing opponents another defeat and raising their concerns that the near-total ban on abortions will remain intact for the foreseeable future.
The Texas law that bans abortion once cardiac activity is detected — usually around six weeks, before some women know they are pregnant — has been in effect since September. In December, the U.S. Supreme Court kept the law in place and allowed only a narrow challenge against the restrictions to proceed.
Abortion providers wanted their lawsuit sent back to a federal court in Austin that so far has been the only one to block the restrictions — albeit for only a few days. Instead, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in a 2-1 decision routed the case next to the Texas Supreme Court, which is entirely controlled by nine Republican justices.
There is no timetable for when the state supreme court might take up the case.
The Supreme Court signaled last month in a separate case out of Mississippi that it would roll back abortion rights, and possibly overturn its landmark Roe v. Wade decision, in a ruling that is expected later this year.
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