Texas abortion law: 6-week ban takes effect after Supreme Court inaction
The lack of judicial intervention means that the law – which is one of the strictest in the country and prohibits abortion before many people know they are pregnant – comes into force in the absence of a new one. judicial intervention.
The law allows individuals to bring civil proceedings against anyone who assists a pregnant person seeking an abortion in violation of the prohibition.
No other six-week ban has been allowed to come into effect, even briefly.
The case comes as judges prepare to rule on the constitutionality of a Mississippi law banning 15-week abortion.
Under Texas law, abortion is prohibited when a fetal heartbeat is detected, which is often before a woman knows she is pregnant. There is no exception for rape or incest, although there is an exemption for “medical emergencies”.
Abortion providers have asked judges to block the ban while legal challenges unfold, claiming that if allowed to go into effect, it “would immediately and catastrophically reduce access to abortion in Texas. , Eventually forcing many abortion clinics to close.
They argued that if the law were allowed to come into force, it would have the impact “of banning care for at least 85% of abortion patients in Texas” and would mean that lawsuits could be brought against a wide range. range of people, including a person driving their friend. to get an abortion, someone who provides financial assistance and even a member of the clergy who assists a patient.
The lack of response from the Supreme Court sparked a furious reaction from supporters of the right to abortion just after the law came into force.
“Access to almost all abortions has just been cut for millions of people, the impact will be immediate and devastating,” the ACLU said in a tweet.
New legal strategy
In the new legal strategy, the state legislature designed the law to prevent government officials from directly enforcing it. The move was intended to make pre-application challenge much more difficult, as there aren’t the usual government officials to hold account in court.
Instead, the law allows private citizens – anywhere in the country – to bring civil suits against anyone who helps a pregnant person seek an abortion in violation of the ban.
Opponents say the law is part of a new wave of laws proposed by states hostile to abortion rights and will prompt other states to follow suit.
Lawyers for Texas officials urged judges to allow the law to go into effect, saying clinics had not shown they would be “personally harmed by a bill that may never be enforced against them “.
The case comes as judges have already agreed to consider a Mississippi law during their next term that bans most 15-week abortions. Abortion right supporters say Mississippi and Texas laws are a direct challenge to Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 opinion legalizing abortion nationwide before viability, which can occur at around 24 weeks pregnant.
The clinics initially sued not only Texas Republican Attorney General Ken Paxton but also Texas state judges and clerks with jurisdiction to enforce the law. They also targeted Mark Lee Dickson, director of Right to Life East Texas.
In briefs, providers said patients “who can muster the resources” will be forced to attempt to leave the state, and others will be forced to “stay pregnant against their will.”
This story has been updated with additional details.