(Reuters) - A federal appeals court on Friday ordered the immediate enforcement of a new Texas abortion law that requires pregnant women to listen to the fetal heartbeat while opponents continue their legal challenge against the measure.
The law, enacted in 2011, requires abortion providers to perform an ultrasound on pregnant women, show and describe the image to them, and play sounds of the fetal heartbeat.
On Tuesday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit had overturned a federal judge's decision to block the law, ruling that the sonogram requirements do not infringe on abortion providers' free-speech rights.
Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott asked the appeals court on Thursday to expedite its order for the law's enforcement, which was scheduled to be issued on February 1. The appeals court granted Abbott's request in a one-sentence order on Friday.
The district court is scheduled to hear arguments on the constitutionality of the law on January 20.
(Reporting by Terry Baynes; Editing by Daniel Trotta)