An appeals court in New Orleans has ruled that Texas can enforce its controversial abortion law while opponents challenge it in court.
The law requires that doctors show sonograms to patients and describe the fetal heartbeat before the terminate a pregnancy.
U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks blocked the state from enforcing the law since last August, saying several provisions of the law violate the free speech rights of doctors.
At that time, Sparks wrote that forcing doctors to discuss the results with a patient who may not want to listen "compels physicians to advance an ideological agenda with which they may not agree, regardless of any medical necessity and irrespective of whether the pregnant women wish to listen." Sparks also struck down several penalties doctors could have faced, including the loss of their medical license and possible criminal misdemeanor prosecution, should they fail to comply with the law.
The state said the interest of protecting fetal life trumps any claim of violating free speech.
Gov. Rick Perry signed the law in May, 2011, saying it would save countless lives by discouraging women from having abortions -- of which there are about 81,000 of in Texas each year.