Considered to be a blow to the 1973 Supreme Court’s landmark judgment (Roe v. Wade), US Supreme Court late Wednesday declined to block the extreme Texas 6 week abortion ban with a 5-4 vote. The law criminalizes abortion after six weeks without any exception for rape and incest.
Chief Justice John Roberts sided with the three liberal Justices Elaina Kagan, Stephen Breyer, and Sonia Sotomayor against restrictive Texas law
The law, Senate Bill 8 also known as the “Heartbeat Act” went into effect on Wednesday midnight after complete inaction of the Supreme Court. It was signed by Greg Abbott, the state’s Republican governor, in May this year.
Senate Bill 8 bans abortions after fetal cardiac activity is detected, which occurs as early as six weeks into pregnancy — before many women even know they are pregnant. The Texas unique ban which is considered a near-total ban on abortion in the state is enforced through private citizens’ lawsuits against abortion providers rather than the state government.
Abortion providers and abortion rights advocates including Center for Reproductive Rights, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, and the American Civil Liberties Union, and others came together to file an emergency appeal before Supreme Court on Monday questioning the constitutionality of Texas law and asking to block the law.
“The measure would immediately and catastrophically reduce abortion access in Texas, barring care for at least 85 percent of Texas abortion patients (those who are six weeks pregnant or greater) and likely forcing many abortion clinics ultimately to close,” the appeal said.
A Major Defeat For Women’s Abortion Rights Activists
The decision is condemned by all women’s abortion rights activists and is welcomed by anti-abortion advocates.
“Extreme and a blatant violation of constitutional right established under Roe v. Wade. The Texas law will significantly impair women’s access to the health care they need, particularly for communities of color and individuals with low incomes,” American President Joe Biden commented over the decision.
Incentivizing Private Citizens For Bringing Lawsuits Against Violators
The law also outrageously gives the power to any private citizen, even those outside the state, to sue a person who they believe has helped another person get an abortion. The plaintiff can be rewarded at least $10,000 per defendant.
The law will not only target organizations that help pay for abortions and practical support groups that provide women in need with transportation, lodging, recovery care and child care, but also doctors, nurses, domestic violence counselors and even friends, parents, spouses and clergy members who give aid such as driving a woman to a clinic or providing counseling about whether to have the procedure.
Violates Roe v. Wade Landmark Judgment
The decision is considered not only a blow to reproductive freedom but also to half-a-century-long landmark judgment, Roe v. Wade which legalised abortions prior to viability, which can occur at around 24 weeks of pregnancy.
In 1973, the US Supreme Court ruled that the Constitution of the United States protects a pregnant woman’s liberty to choose to have an abortion without excessive government restriction.