Supreme Court Upholds Texas Six-Week Abortion Ban

Court denies abortion providers’ request to allow federal court challenge.

QUICK FACTS:
  • The Supreme Court allowed Texas’ six-week abortion ban to remain in effect indefinitely, ordering Thursday to block litigation against the law while the state’s highest court weighs a procedural question related to the measure’s enforcement, according to The Wall Street Journal.
  • “With today’s ruling, the lawsuit will continue in the appropriate venue, and the Texas Heartbeat Act will continue to save preborn lives,” Texas Right to Life, a leading antiabortion group in the state, wrote in a statement on its website.
  • In opposition to the ruling, president of the Center for Reproductive Rights Nancy Northup said, “Texans have been without abortion access for almost five months now, and there is no end in sight because the Supreme Court has done nothing to stop this unconstitutional ban.”
  • “Seven other states have already introduced copycat bans now that the court has let Texas get away with this ploy,” Northup went on to say.
  • The Texas ban is thus likely to remain in effect for the foreseeable future, following a decision by the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans to send the case to the Texas Supreme Court, which is entirely controlled by Republican justices and does not have to act immediately, according to The Associated Press.
OPPOSING JUSTICES:
  • The three liberal justices dissented, arguing that Thursday’s order undermined the court’s December decision permitting abortion providers to proceed in limited fashion with their lawsuit against the Texas law, WSJ goes on reporting.
  • “This case is a disaster for the rule of law and a grave disservice to women in Texas, who have a right to control their own bodies,” Justice Sonia Sotomayor dissented, joined by Justices Stephen Breyer and Elena Kagan.
BACKGROUND:
  • The Texas law, SB 8, bans nearly all abortions after about the sixth week of pregnancy.
  • The law was passed in May and bars doctors from knowingly performing an abortion if there is a “detectable fetal heartbeat,” defined to include early cardiac activity in the embryo.
  • The court’s order was unsigned and and provided no explanation, WSJ notes.