The U.S. Supreme Court rejected an emergency request from abortion rights groups by 5 votes to 4 to prevent the bill from taking effect, allowing the state of Texas to continue its law prohibiting most abortions in the state.
An order not signed by the majority on Wednesday night stated that the challenger did not bear the high burden necessary to stop the law, while retaining the possibility that it might face other challenges.
“In reaching this conclusion, we emphasized that we do not intend to explicitly resolve any jurisdictional or substantive claims in the applicant’s litigation,” the order said. “In particular, the order is not based on any conclusions about the constitutionality of Texas law, and it does not limit other procedurally appropriate challenges to Texas law, including in Texas courts.”
Chief Justice John Roberts and the three liberal justices of the court opposed the decision.
Judge Sonia Sotomayor wrote in his dissenting opinion that the law “immediately prohibits the care of at least 85% of abortion patients in Texas” and is “clearly unconstitutional based on existing precedents”.
Sotomayor said: “When applying for a ban on a blatantly unconstitutional law designed to prohibit women from exercising constitutional rights and evading judicial review, most judges chose to bury their heads in the sand.”
In a statement earlier on Wednesday, abortion rights supporter and U.S. President Joe Biden, along with many U.S. Democrats, stated that the Southwestern state’s laws “flagrantly violated the law of the 1973 Roe v. Wade case. The constitutional right established by the landmark decision” refers to the constitutional right of women to terminate pregnancy within the first six months when the fetus cannot survive outside the womb.
Texas is one of more than a dozen states mainly led by the Republican Party. It has issued a “heartbeat” abortion ban. Once the rhythmic contraction of the fetal heart tissue can be detected, usually within six weeks, sometimes in female consciousness. The procedure will be banned until oneself becomes pregnant.
The court has blocked such injunctions in the past.
The unusual thing about the Texas anti-abortion law is that it gives ordinary citizens the power to enforce the law, allowing them to sue abortion providers and anyone who “helps or abets” an abortion six weeks later. Those who win such lawsuits will be entitled to at least $10,000.
Biden said: “Texas laws will severely impair women’s access to the medical care they need, especially for communities of color and low-income individuals.”
“Moreover, it’s outrageous that it’s acting on behalf of ordinary citizens to file a lawsuit against anyone they think is helping others to have an abortion. This may even include family members, health care workers, front desk staff at health care clinics, or people who have no contact. Strangers are personal,” the American leader said.
Biden stated that his administration was “firmly committed” to defending the abortion rights established in the 1973 decision.
The Texas law went into effect on Wednesday, and even before the Supreme Court issued an order, supporters of the law praised the court for not stopping it.
“There is no doubt that today is a historic and hopeful day,” said Chelsea Youman, an officer of the Human League Action Team in Texas, who is committed to passing the law. “Texas is the first state that successfully protects the most vulnerable among us, the unborn child, and prohibits abortion once their heartbeat is detected.”
Abortion providers in Texas, including Planned Parenthood and Whole Women’s Health, have stated that they will no longer terminate a pregnancy more than six weeks after a woman’s last menstrual period.
The right to abortion is one of the most controversial issues in American political life.
Although national opinion polls show that most Americans support the retention of the Roe ruling nearly five years ago, the conservative state legislature led by the Republican Party has approved a series of laws restricting the number of abortions, and some anti-abortion lawmakers are active. Petition to high-level courts to completely ban the procedure.
The Supreme Court agreed with a 6 to 3 conservative majority to hear arguments about Mississippi state law during the upcoming October term, which prohibits most abortions after 15 weeks (significantly earlier than the fetus’s survival time).