Texas Prohibits Abortion After Supreme Court Silence
After a night of silence from the United States Supreme Court, abortion services in Texas were mostly shut down, allowing new legislation to take effect that outlaws most abortions after the sixth week of pregnancy.
The conservative-controlled court did not rule on a request by clinics and physicians to halt the law while a legal battle continues temporarily. As a result, most clinics began informing patients on Wednesday that they were no longer qualified for legal abortion in Texas.
According to reports, Marc Hearron, a lawyer with the Center for Reproductive Rights and the main attorney opposing the new law, said, “As of today, most abortion is illegal in Texas.”
The proposal would prevent abortions for at least 85 percent of women seeking them in the country’s second-most populated state; opponents told the court.
The silence was uncommon for a court that nearly usually responds in one way or another to motions to halt the implementation of legislation. The court may act on Wednesday, but no clear timetable has been set.
The high court’s delay might be due to the challenge’s tangle of procedural difficulties.
What is prohibited by Texas law?
There are no exceptions to the law in cases of rape or incest which made the Texas legislation the most stringent in the country.
As soon as heart activity is detected, abortion is prohibited. That’s about six weeks, which is when most women find out they’re pregnant. Other states have attempted this, but abortion-rights organizations have repeatedly challenged their laws and blocked by federal courts.
The court will consider a Mississippi appeal in the coming months that aims to reverse the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, which legalized abortion nationally.
Overturning Roe v. Wade
The Texas law was welcomed by abortion opponents who hoped to see the Supreme Court overturn Roe v. Wade and the 1992 Planned Parenthood v. Casey decision, which stated that a woman’s right to abortion is protected until the fetus becomes viable, which occurs sometime after the 20th week of pregnancy. However, with the approval of three Donald Trump appointees, the court has grown much more conservative in recent years.
Other abortion opponents warned against reading too much into the Supreme Court’s decision not to strike down the statute right now.
Representatives from Whole Woman’s Health and Planned Parenthood stated their Texas facilities remained open but were only offering abortion services to a select group of patients, as required by law.
The Texas legislation, according to President Joe Biden, is “severe” and “blatantly breaches the constitutional right established under Roe v. Wade and affirmed as precedent for almost half a century.”
Enforcement by Private Parties
Senate Bill 8, a Texas law, prohibits abortion after detecting a fetal heartbeat and places clinics at the danger of closure if they are discovered to be in violation.
The legislation permits private individuals to sue abortion doctors and anybody else who assists a woman in obtaining an abortion,
The unique enforcement mechanism of the statute is at the heart of the legal battle. The law allows private parties to sue anybody who assists a woman in getting an abortion, including those who offer a ride to the clinic or financial support, with a minimum of $10,000 in damages.
Private persons who file these lawsuits are not required to prove any ties to the people they are suing.
The law does not allow government employees to sue suspected offenders.
A federal trial judge was scheduled to consider blocking the law’s implementation, but a three-judge panel of the conservative 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals halted the lower court’s actions.
What about other states?
If the federal courts uphold this bill, it’s possible that other conservative states would enact similar legislation.
Texas Right to Life’s Seago said his group is working with activists from other states who want to duplicate the concept if it succeeds in preventing most abortions in Texas.
Multiple legal challenges to the bill are still pending, including several cases in Texas state court targeting anti-abortion rights organizations such as Texas Right to Life. In Texas, pro-abortion groups are organizing rallies and demonstrations in opposition to the bill.
No litigation against abortion providers is expected, according to a spokesperson for Texas Right to Life, and abortion providers say they will follow the legislation as long as it is in place.