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State district court judge to hear challenges to Texas' abortion law

By Reese Oxner, The Texas Tribune
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State district court judge to hear challenges to Texas' abortion law
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton walks out of the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., on November 1. Arguments against the state's abortion law are being heard Wednesday in state court.  Photo by Tasos Katopodis/UPI | License Photo

Nov. 10 (UPI) -- A state district judge on Wednesday morning will hear arguments from abortion providers challenging Texas' restrictive abortion law in what could be the first court hearing over the statute's constitutionality.

David Peeples, a retired state magistrate judge, will preside over the hearing, which starts at 9 a.m. CST and is expected to last all day. Peeples will hear over a dozen cases filed in state court challenging Texas' law, which effectively bans abortions after about six weeks.

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These lawsuits -- filed by Planned Parenthood, doctors, social workers, abortion fund organizations, practical support networks and lawyers -- were consolidated by Texas' multidistrict litigation panel and will be heard together. The plaintiffs have asked that the court declare Texas' new law unconstitutional.

"In short, SB8's enforcement mechanism, created to subvert one constitutional right, violates the Texas and United States Constitutions," wrote attorneys representing the plaintiffs.

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It's unclear what the outcome of the hearing will be or what weight it could hold overall, but it's the latest challenge against the controversial law to make the courts.

The lawsuits target Texas Right to Life, a prominent anti-abortion organization that helped draft Texas' law and has vowed to sue violators -- although the group has not yet filed suits against anyone.

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Texas Right to Life, in an October statement on its website, said it believes these lawsuits will not affect the overall way the law is enforced in the state.

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"These lawsuits do nothing towards preventing the Texas Heartbeat Act from being enforced against other individuals and groups within the abortion industry, should they violate the law," the organization said.

The U.S. Supreme Court, which heard oral arguments in two other cases challenging the abortion law, is also expected to rule soon on whether to allow the challenges to proceed. During those hearings, the majority of justices expressed concerns with the way the Texas law is enforced. The statute forbids state or law officials from enforcing it, instead relying on private citizens to sue those who violate it.

Wednesday's hearing can be viewed live on this YouTube channel.

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Disclosure: Planned Parenthood has been a financial supporter of The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization that is funded in part by donations from members, foundations and corporate sponsors. Financial supporters play no role in the Tribune's journalism. Find a complete list of them here.

This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune. Read the original here.

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The Texas Tribune is a member-supported, nonpartisan newsroom informing and engaging Texans on state politics and policy. Learn more at texastribune.org.

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