Fifth Circuit Denies Texas Sonogram Law En Banc Rehearing

By Robyn Hagan Cain on February 10, 2012 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals denied en banc rehearing this morning in the Texas sonogram bill lawsuit, reports The Washington Post.

The Texas sonogram law, which became effective this week over the protestations of U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks, requires a doctor to perform a sonogram on a woman requesting an abortion at least 24 hours before the procedure, describe the unborn child, and list agencies that offer alternatives to abortion.

The Center for Reproductive Rights filed suit in federal court in June to challenge the law, which was originally scheduled to take effect last September. Opponents of the Texas sonogram law claimed that the measure amounted to compelled speech in violation of doctors' free speech rights. Judge Sparks agreed, and enjoined the state from enforcing the law's penalties against noncompliant doctors.

Last month, a three-judge panel of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals found that the plaintiffs failed to demonstrate "constitutional flaws" in the law, and lifted the injunction in an opinion written by Chief Judge Edith Jones. The Fifth Circuit reasoned, "The required disclosures of a sonogram, the fetal heartbeat, and their medical descriptions are the epitome of truthful, non-misleading information. They are not different in kind, although more graphic and scientifically up-to-date, than the disclosures discussed in [Planned Parenthood v. Casey.]"

Since the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals denied en banc rehearing, we're guessing that the next stop for the plaintiffs in the Texas sonogram law dispute is a petition to the U.S. Supreme Court. What do you think? Will four of the Nine agree to hear the case?

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