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Challenge on statewide abortion law heads to Texas Supreme Court

The move could add another significant delay in the ongoing legal struggle.

AUSTIN, Texas — On Monday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit certified a challenge filed by statewide abortion providers to the Texas Supreme Court. 

It's another move that's expected to significantly delay the case that has been in the courts since September 2021, when the Texas law went into effect, allowing anyone to sue a patient or provider who participates in an abortion procedure after around six weeks, which is when a heartbeat can be detected.

At hand before the Firth Circuit in New Orleans was a narrow issue: whether to send a more limited challenge back to a federal judge in Austin, who has already blocked the restrictions, or to the Texas Supreme Court where it will now be heading.

The U.S. Supreme Court last month signaled in a different 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 to come later this year.

Although the Supreme Court has allowed the Texas clinics' lawsuit against the ban to proceed, five conservative justices have formed a majority to limit who can be sued to Texas licensing officials.

Both sides have said that would probably prevent federal courts from effectively blocking the law, which has proved durable because of its novel scheme that leaves enforcement solely up to private lawsuits against clinics or anyone who helps a patient obtain an abortion.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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