US Supreme Court Refuses To Block Controversial Texas Abortion Law

 US Supreme Court Refuses To Block Controversial Texas Abortion Law


The conservative-leaning US Supreme Court refused on Friday to block a Texas law that bans most abortions after six weeks but left the door open for abortion providers to challenge the law in lower courts.

Anti-abortion groups welcomed the ruling, which did not address the constitutionality of the Texas law, while abortion rights advocates expressed concern.

“Today’s decision is not okay,” said Amy Hagstrom Miller, president, and CEO of Whole Woman’s Health, which operates the Texas abortion clinics that filed suit against the law. “It is unjust, cruel, and inhumane.”

President Joe Biden said he was “very concerned” that the Supreme Court allowed the Texas law to stand and reiterated his commitment to abortion rights.

“I will always stand with women to protect and defend their long-recognized, constitutional right,” the president said in a statement.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton called it a “huge win” while Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the anti-abortion group Susan B. Anthony List welcomed the fact that the Texas law will remain in force for now.

“We celebrate that the Texas Heartbeat Act will remain in effect, saving the lives of unborn children and protecting mothers while litigation continues in lower courts,” Dannenfelser said in a statement.

The Texas ruling comes 10 days after the conservative majority on the court indicated in another case that they may be inclined to overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 ruling that held that access to abortion is a constitutional right.

The Supreme Court heard oral arguments on December 1 about a Mississippi law that would ban most abortions after 15 weeks, and the court’s conservative wing — which includes three justices nominated by Donald Trump — appeared ready to uphold the law and perhaps even go further and overturn Roe.

The court is to render a decision in the Mississippi case by June.

‘Chilling effect’

The Texas law bans abortion after six weeks, when a heartbeat can be detected but before many women even know they are pregnant, and is the most restrictive law passed in the United States since abortion was made a constitutional right nearly five decades ago.

Without ruling on the merits of the Texas law, eight of the nine justices on the court agreed that lawsuits filed by abortion providers against the law may proceed in federal court. Justice Clarence Thomas disagreed.

Chief Justice John Roberts, a conservative, sided with the three liberal justices in expressing concerns about the Texas law and the way it has been framed to avoid judicial review.

“Given the ongoing chilling effect of the state law, the District Court should resolve this litigation and enter appropriate relief without delay,” Roberts wrote.

“The nature of the federal right infringed does not matter; it is the role of the Supreme Court in our constitutional system that is at stake.”

Laws restricting abortion have been passed in multiple Republican-led states but struck down by the courts for violating Roe v. Wade, which guaranteed a woman’s right to an abortion until the fetus is viable outside the womb, typically around 22 to 24 weeks.

Texas Senate Bill 8 (SB8) differs from other efforts in that it attempts to insulate the state by giving members of the public the right to sue doctors who perform abortions — or anyone who helps facilitate them — once a heartbeat in the womb is detected.

They can be rewarded with $10,000 for initiating civil suits that land in court, prompting criticism that the state is encouraging people to take the law into their own hands.

Many clinics in Texas — fearful of potentially ruinous lawsuits — have closed their doors, and the number of abortions in the state fell to 2,100 in September from 4,300 a year earlier, according to a University of Texas study.


Justice Sonia Sotomayor, in an opinion joined by the other two liberal justices, said the court should have stepped in and blocked the Texas law.

“The Court should have put an end to this madness months ago before SB8 first went into effect,” Sotomayor wrote. “It failed to do so then, and it fails again today.”

“The law has threatened abortion care providers with the prospect of essentially unlimited suits for damages, brought anywhere in Texas by private bounty hunters,” she said.

Public opinion polls have found most Americans believe abortion should be legal in all or most cases.

Related post