Court Hears Arguments Over Texas Abortion Law

State says "fetal life after viability" trumps any free-speech claims.

Wednesday, Jan 4, 2012  |  Updated 12:48 PM CDT
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Court Hears Arguments Over Texas Abortion Law

Geoff Livingston/flickr

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A federal appeals court is weighing whether to lift an order blocking the state of Texas from enforcing a law requiring doctors to show sonograms to patients and describe the images before an abortion.

In August, U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks in Austin, Texas, ruled that several provisions of the state law violated the free-speech rights of abortion-performing doctors.

A three-judge panel from the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals didn't immediately rule after hearing arguments Wednesday on the state's request to lift a preliminary injunction issued by Sparks.

A group of medical providers is challenging the law, which also requires doctors to describe the fetal heartbeat to a patient before performing an abortion.

The state argues its interest in protecting "fetal life after viability" trumps any free-speech claims.

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