On Wednesday, the US Supreme Court refrained from blocking a new Texas anti-abortion law. The new state law bars any abortion procedures after six weeks of pregnancy. As a result, the Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision is a milestone in the battle between pro-life and pro-choice advocates across the United States.
Supreme Court Votes 5-4 in Favor of Texas Anti-abortion Law
The decision rejects an emergency lawsuit filed by abortion rights advocates questioning the legality of the new Texas abortion law.
Officials say that the refusal of the SC to hold the implementation of the law is not the final say. However, it does validate the actions made by Texas lawmakers to protect antiabortion measures from legal challenges.
Within the SC, Chief Justice John Roberts plus the three liberal justices voted against the Texas anti-abortion law.
Conservative Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito, along with Trump appointees Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett, comprised the majority.
In addition to the close vote, the issue showed the extent of disagreement was among the justices. Prior to releasing its majority opinion (and four dissenting ones), the Supreme Court stayed silent as the new Texas anti-abortion law took effect last Wednesday.
New Texas State Law Prevents Abortion After Six Weeks Pregnancy
Signed by Republican Governor Greg Abbott in May went into effect September 1. It bars physicians from performing an abortion if they can detect the fetal heartbeat. Typically, embryonic cardiac activity starts to manifest around six weeks into a pregnancy.
As such, the Texas anti-abortion law covers an early time during pregnancy. Critics insist that six weeks of pregnancy is not enough time for many women to realize they’re pregnant. In addition, the new allowed time frame conflicts with current Supreme Court precedent.
Previously, the court forbade states from banning abortion procedures before a fetus can live outside the womb. However, the Texas Heartbeat Act (SB 8) provides a medical emergency exception. It does not have exceptions for pregnancies from rape or incest.
Raising Serious Questions
Meanwhile, the SC majority said that objectors to the new state law and abortion providers raised serious questions. These involve the constitutionality of the Texas anti-abortion law.
However, the majority of justices said that continuing litigation over the abortion restrictions raised “complex and novel antecedent procedural questions” that presented hurdles for the providers’ emergency appeal. “In light of such issues, we cannot say the applicants have met their burden to prevail in an injunction or stay application,” the court opined.
Opposition From Liberal Justices
Meanwhile, the remaining four justices each offered their own separate dissenting opinions on the issue. They also worked with one another on their objections. Justice Sonia Sotomayor accused Texas lawmakers of cynically flouting legal precedents.
She also scored the court’s majority of disingenuously endorsing the lawmakers’ strategy. “Taken together, the Act is a breathtaking act of defiance—of the Constitution, of this Court’s precedents, and of the rights of women seeking abortions throughout Texas,” she wrote. Her opinion was joined by Justices Stephen Breyer and Elena Kagan.
Watch the NBC News video reporting that the US Supreme Court allows Texas law banning abortions after six weeks to take effect:
Do you support SB 8, the new Texas anti-abortion law that bans procedures six weeks into pregnancy? In addition, do you foresee more to come in this hotly contested debate?
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