Fifth Circuit Court knocks down Texas abortion ban | The Latest | Gambit Weekly

The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals struck down Tuesday evening a Texas law banning the most common and safest type of second trimester abortion, marking an unlikely victory for reproductive rights advocates from one of the most conservative appeals courts. 

The statute effectively outlawed the dilation and evacuation procedure, known as D&E, in which doctors open the cervix and remove fetal tissue from the uterus. The law would only allow the procedure, the one usually used for abortions after 14 weeks of pregnancy, if the “fetal demise” occurs in the uteruswhich would require an invasive additional step for doctors and women that is not part of a typical D&E. 

In its Whole Woman’s Health v. Ken Paxton decision, the Fifth Circuit ruled that the law unduly burdens a woman’s constitutionally-protected right to obtain a previability abortion” because it “requires a woman to undergo an additional and medically unnecessary procedure to cause fetal demise before she may obtain a dilation and evacuation abortion.”  

Louisiana passed a similar law in 2016, with exceptions only for a serious health risk to the mother, but it is not currently in effect. Several other states have had their own bans challenged in courtincluding Alabama, Kansas and Oklahoma. It is unclear if the ruling will apply to Louisiana and Mississippi, which are also in the Fifth Circuit’s jurisdiction and have similar bans on the books. 

The Texas law started out as a bill banning a late-term abortion procedure that was already outlawed at the federal level in 2003 and forbidding the sale or donation of embryonic and fetal tissue. But after several amendments, the final form of the law had many other parts, including requiring the burial or cremation of embryonic and fetal tissue. The D&E ban, however, was the biggest change. 

The law also included criminal penalties for doctors who did not adhere to it. 

Eight licensed abortion clinics and three abortion providers challenged the Texas law, and the Fifth Circuit, which covers Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas, ruled in their favor and against the state of Texas. 

The ruling in favor of abortion rights comes as Louisiana residents begin to vote on whether they want to add an amendment to the state constitution declaring it does not include the right to abortion. It also comes in the midst of Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s Senate confirmation hearings. If confirmed to the Supreme Court, Barrett would give the court and even stronger anti-abortion majority, which could impact decades of future abortion legislation. 

Barrett is from Louisiana.

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Arizona court rules gyms should have opportunity to reopen

Fitness centers must be provided a prompt opportunity to apply for reopening, the decision from the judge said.

PHOENIX — Editor’s note: The above video is from an Aug. 3 newscast

An Arizona judge ruled Tuesday that gyms should have the opportunity to reopen. 

Mountainside Fitness and EOS Fitness were plaintiffs in the lawsuit filed against Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey.

Gyms are set to be closed until at least Aug. 10 after Ducey extended executive orders that closed gyms, movie theaters, bars, water parks and tubing.

On June 29, Ducey said those businesses in the state must close until at least July 27.

On July 23, Ducey extended the closure for another two weeks where the closures would then be reviewed again with another two-week extension or a lift of the order.

“The Executive Orders, as implemented, violate procedural due process,” the ruling from Judge Timothy Thomason reads. “As set forth above, fitness centers must be provided a prompt opportunity to apply for reopening. The process for doing so must be in place within one week from the date of entry of this Order. The Executive Orders, however, do not violate substantive due process.

“We are reviewing the order. Our focus is on protecting public health, and working with the private sector on how and when to safely reopen,” a spokesperson for Ducey’s office told 12 News.

Mountainside Fitness had previously filed for a restraining order against Ducey’s initial June 29 orders, but lost the decision.

RELATED: Judge denies Mountainside Fitness’ restraining order against Ducey’s gym shutdown

A judge last month also ruled against Xponential Fitness after the company sued the state over Ducey’s executive order.

RELATED: Judge rules against Xponential Fitness in lawsuit against Arizona over shutdown order

Will Humble, the former Arizona Department of Health Services director, was a witness for Mountainside Fitness. He said with proper procedures, gyms could mitigate the risks of spreading the virus.

For Humble, the evidence points to gyms not being in the same class as bars or nightclubs.

“Not risk-free, not risk-free. I’m not saying that. But it certainly is not in the same risk category as a bar or a nightclub.” Humble said. “I do think the benefits of opening that facility outweigh the risks.”

Current state health director, Dr. Cara Christ, testified for the state and disagrees. 

“The risk is really with the type of activity that they are doing and the intensity of breathing. And so that is what makes it very different than being in a grocery store or a hardware store.“ Dr. Christ said. 

In short, Christ said those going to the gym are likely to be younger, in the demographic most likely to show no symptoms of the disease. This coupled with intense breathing during a work out makes it easier for the virus to spread.  

“We know even if the guidelines are followed there is a higher inherent risk when you are exercising for the transmission of COVID-19,” Christ said. 

Christ said while masks and

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Court Orders Dentist to Pay Damages for Sexual Harassment

A dentist was ordered by France’s top court to pay damages for sexually abusing a female assistant after the man was cleared of related criminal charges.

In a milestone ruling last month, the Cour de Cassation said the bar is lower for proving harassment in civil lawsuits than in criminal cases, where intent is key. The judges said the dental assistant was entitled to unfair-dismissal damages after complaining about her boss’s inappropriate language.

The dental assistant filed a labor lawsuit after being fired by the dentist in 2013, claiming she had been sexually harassed by her boss. Two years ago, an appellate court awarded her damages over the dismissal, but the dentist appealed.

The ruling creates a clearer path for victims of abuse to seek compensation. While sexual harassment is seen to be widespread in France — affecting as many as a third of women according to an Ifop poll two years ago — it has historically led to few criminal convictions.

Paris lawyer Zoë Royaux says the ruling may encourage victims of sexual harassment to consider both civil and criminal avenues.

“Don’t be afraid to use the different strands of the law,” said Royaux, a spokeswoman for the Fondation des femmes, which promotes gender equality. “Lodging a criminal complaint can sometimes lead to a disappointing outcome, that’s a known fact.”

Royaux says the top court ruling is a reminder that the criminal code doesn’t always trump civil rules. She also finds points of comparison between the dentist’s case and the Dominique Strauss-Kahn scandal that unfolded in the U.S. about a decade ago.

Strauss-Kahn, the former chief of the International Monetary Fund, and the maid who accused him of trying to rape her agreed to settle her civil lawsuit even after criminal charges against him were dropped.

The dentist, who wasn’t identified in the ruling, had argued that the assistant had only complained about harassment after she had been dismissed.

But the court said the hierarchical relationship with her boss was complicated by her need to finish her studies, “preventing her from leaving the dentist’s office without also forfeiting a chance to get her diploma.”

That had “logically and naturally restrained her from complaining,” the judges said.

“Moreover, she told the police officer when lodging a complaint that when she wanted to talk to her employer about his language, he had told her she should ‘loosen up,’” the judges said.

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