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US appeals court lets Texas resume ban on most abortions

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US appeals court lets Texas resume ban on most abortions

By PAUL J. WEBER

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — A federal appeals court Friday night quickly allowed Texas to resume banning most abortions, just one day after clinics began racing to serve patients again for the first time since early September.

A one-page order by the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reinstated the nation’s strictest abortion law, which bans abortions once cardiac activity is detected, usually around six weeks. It makes no exceptions in cases of rape or incest.

“Patients are being thrown back into a state of chaos and fear,” said Nancy Northup, president of the Center for Reproductive Rights, which represents several Texas clinics that had briefly resumed normal abortion services.

She called on the U.S. Supreme Court to “step in and stop this madness.”

Clinics had braced for the New Orleans-based appeals court to act fast after U.S. District Judge Robert Pitman, an appointee of President Barack Obama, on Wednesday suspended the Texas law that he called an “offensive deprivation” of the constitutional right to an abortion. Knowing that order might not stand long, a handful of Texas clinics immediately started performing abortions again beyond six weeks, and booked new appointments for this weekend.

But barely 48 hours passed before the appeals court accepted Texas’ request to set aside Pitman’s ruling — at least for now — pending further arguments. It gave the Biden administration, which had brought the lawsuit, until Tuesday to respond.

“Great news tonight,” Republican Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton tweeted. “I will fight federal overreach at every turn.”

Texas had roughly two dozen abortion clinics before the law took effect Sept. 1. During the brief period the law was on hold, many Texas physicians remained unwilling to perform abortions, fearful that doing so could still leave them in legal jeopardy.

The new law threatens Texas abortion providers with lawsuits from private citizens, who are entitled to collect at least $10,000 in damages if successful. That novel approach to enforcement is the reason why Texas had been able to evade an earlier wave of legal challenges prior to this week.

The 5th circuit appeals court had already once allowed the law to take effect in September, and stepped in this time only hours after Paxton’s office urged them to act.

His office told the court that since the state does not enforce the law, it cannot “be held responsible for the filings of private citizens that Texas is powerless to prevent.”

It is unclear how many abortions Texas clinics performed in the short time the law was put on hold. On Thursday, at least six abortions providers had resumed normal services or were gearing up to do so, according to the Center for Reproductive Rights.

Prior to Pitman’s blistering 113-page order, other courts had declined to stop the law, which bans abortions before some women even know they are pregnant. That includes the Supreme Court, which allowed it to move forward in September without ruling on its constitutionality.

One of the first providers to resume normal services this week was Whole Woman’s Health, which operates four clinics in Texas.

Amy Hagstrom Miller, president of Whole Woman’s Health, said her clinics called in some patients early Thursday who were on a list in case the law was blocked at some point. Other appointments were in the process of being scheduled for the days ahead, and phone lines were again busy. But some of the clinics’ 17 physicians were still declining to perform abortions because of the legal risk.

Pitman’s order had amounted to the first legal blow to the law known as Senate Bill 8. In the weeks since the restrictions took effect, Texas abortion providers said the impact had been “exactly what we feared.”

Planned Parenthood says the number of patients from Texas at its clinics in the state decreased by nearly 80% in the two weeks after the law took effect. Some providers have said Texas clinics are now in danger of closing while neighboring states struggle to keep up with a surge of patients who must drive hundreds of miles for an abortion.

Other women, they say, are being forced to carry pregnancies to term.

How many abortions have been performed in Texas since the law took effect is unknown. State health officials say additional reporting requirements under the law will not make September data available on its website until early next year.

A 1992 decision by the U.S. Supreme Court prevented states from banning abortion before viability, the point at which a fetus can survive outside the womb, around 24 weeks of pregnancy. But Texas’ version has so far outmaneuvered the courts because it leaves enforcement to private citizens to file suits, not prosecutors, which critics say amounts to a bounty.

“This is an answered prayer,” said Kimberlyn Schwartz, spokeswoman for Texas Right to Life, the state’s largest anti-abortion group.

___

Associated Press Writer Jamie Stengle contributed from Dallas.

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Arc’teryx climbs out of Cherry Creek

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Arc’teryx climbs out of Cherry Creek

Arc’teryx is venturing out of its Cherry Creek space.

The 3,500 square feet the Vancouver-based outdoor apparel and gear company occupies at 250 Columbine St. is being marketed for lease, according to materials obtained by BusinessDen.

Arc’teryx did not confirm when it plans to move out of its only Denver retail store.

“Our team is still in the midst of finalizing details for this location, but we are committed to having an Arc’teryx location in Denver,” a spokesperson told BusinessDen.

Courtesy of Legend Partners

The Arc’teryx store in Cherry Creek opened in 2018.

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No final ruling over St. Louis County mask mandate after latest court hearing

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No final ruling over St. Louis County mask mandate after latest court hearing

ST. LOUIS – There is still confusion over whether a mask mandate continues to exist in St. Louis County. 

That after no final rulings were made this morning by the Judge overseeing the controversial St. Louis County mask mandate court case. 

Judge Ellen “Nellie” Ribaudo held about a half-hour hearing with lawyers for Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt and attorneys for St. Louis County. 

A key issue in the hearing was the impact of a ruling last week by Cole County Judge Daniel Green that bars local governing bodies from imposing COVID-19 health orders like mask mandates. 

We’re told the ruling does not officially go into effect until later in December. 

An attorney for St. Louis County, Neal Perryman, said county officials are still working through the ruling. 

Perryman conceded that county officials took the masking order off the county website following the ruling by Judge Green and that the St. Louis County masking order could now be moot. 

But Perryman would not go so far as to say that a mask mandate no longer exists in St. Louis County. 

An attorney for Missouri Attorney General’s office, Jeff Johnson, argued it’s not enough that the order was taken down from the website because St. Louis County Executive Dr. Sam Page said just yesterday that the mask mandate was still in effect in St. Louis County. 

A spokesperson for AG Schmitt says Schmitt wants a preliminary injunction officially ending the second St. Louis County mask mandate announced by County Executive Dr. Sam Page back in September. 

Officials with the AG’s office have filed a lawsuit contending the mandate is illegal under state law. 

Judge Ribaudo set another meeting for December 9th so that attorneys on both sides could meet and try to work out the various issues that are still outstanding. 

Meanwhile, the latest COVID numbers from the St. Louis Metropolitan Pandemic Task Force show local cases rising again. 

The seven-day moving average of hospital admissions is at 48. The Task Force wants that number below 40. 

The total number of COVID patients hospitalized is nearly 400. Earlier this month there were just above 250. 82 confirmed COVID patients are now in ICUs. 

Less than three weeks ago that number was 53.  And there are now 52 confirmed COVID patients on ventilators. Two weeks ago there were just 32. 

Tragically 10 more people died from COVID in the latest numbers. 

That has pushed our region into double-digit COVID deaths in a single day for the first time in more than two months. 

The Pandemic Task Force is expected to address the latest COVID developments later today. 

The mask mandate controversy is also on the agenda for tonight’s St. Louis County Council meeting. 

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Ravens’ Week 15 game vs. Packers pushed back to late-afternoon kickoff

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Ravens’ Week 15 game vs. Packers pushed back to late-afternoon kickoff

The Ravens’ Week 15 home game against the Green Bay Packers has been pushed back to a 4:25 p.m. kickoff, the NFL announced Tuesday. Fox’s telecast of the game had been scheduled to start at 1 p.m. on Dec. 19.

The NFL uses “flexible scheduling” in Weeks 11-18, meaning that, after consultation with its broadcast partners, it can move games into prime-time or late-afternoon slots. The announcements are made no later than 12 days before the game.

The Ravens are 3-0 against NFC North teams this season, edging the Detroit Lions, Minnesota Vikings and Chicago Bears, but Green Bay should be the division’s stiffest test. The 9-3 Packers, led by reigning NFL Most Valuable Player Aaron Rodgers, have the NFC’s second-best record. On Sunday, they knocked off the Los Angeles Rams, 36-28, in Green Bay.

The Ravens’ Week 15 game will be second of three late-afternoon kickoffs in a five-week span. On Sunday and in Week 17, they face the Pittsburgh Steelers and Los Angeles Rams at 4:25 p.m.

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