Texas Supreme Court docket rejects six-week abortion ban

WASHINGTON – The Supreme Court rejected an attempt by abortion rights groups late Wednesday to halt a Texan law banning women from the trial after six weeks of gestation, and engulfed a divisive debate hours after the ban went into effect.

The ruling, passed a minute before midnight, followed days of outcry from abortion rights groups and applause from anti-abortion advocates across the country after the Texas ban began. Similar abortion bans in other states were quickly stopped by federal courts before they went into effect.

The court declined to block enforcement of the law over objections from three Liberal aldermen and Chief Justice John Roberts.

“The applicants now before us have raised serious questions about the constitutionality of the Texan law in question,” wrote the majority of the court in a brief statement. “But their application also raises complex and novel procedural questions for which they have not made themselves responsible.”

Abortion providers in Texas filed the urgency complaint with the Supreme Court on Monday, contesting the handling of the case by lower courts. A federal appeals court based in New Orleans declined to enforce the law.

Roberts said he temporarily blocked enforcement of the law.

Texas law, signed by Republican Governor Greg Abbott in May, prohibits abortion if a fetal heartbeat is detected, which can occur after six weeks. The law makes no exceptions for rape or incest, but allows women to perform the “medical emergencies” procedure. Similar laws in Georgia, Kentucky, and other states have been blocked by federal courts.

Almost 50 years ago the Supreme Court in Roe v. Wade said women have the right to abortion in the first and second trimesters, but states could impose restrictions in the second trimester. Years later, the court allowed states to ban most viable abortions, the point at which a fetus can survive outside the uterus – about 24 weeks.

Now that Conservatives have an apparent 6: 3 majority in the Supreme Court for the first time in decades, Republican lawmakers are trying to test the court’s commitment to these earlier decisions with laws prohibiting abortion much sooner.

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“Almost fifty years ago this court ruled that Texas cannot ban abortions until they are viable,” the Planned Parenthood Federation of America and several other groups told the Texas Supreme Court this week. “But without the intervention of that court, Texas will do just that in less than two days.”

The Supreme Court approved a blockbuster challenge to Mississippi’s ban on most abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy in May. This dispute, which could be brought to court later this year and resolved next summer, is intended to address key issues related to the constitutionality of abortion and the restrictions imposed by states. In contrast, the Texas case involves more technical questions of how such challenges should be handled in the meantime.

The U.S. 5th District Court of Appeals postponed a Texas District Court hearing this week asking anti-abortion officials to order a judge to temporarily block the law. This ruling prompted an urgent appeal to the Supreme Court on Monday. The groups asked the Supreme Court to either overturn the 5th District decision so the case could continue or to temporarily suspend the law itself.

Texas took an unusual approach to circumventing the Supreme Court’s abortion precedent. Rather than enforcing the ban by the state government, Texas law encourages individuals to sue anyone who helps a woman have an abortion after a heartbeat is detected. A successful plaintiff could receive at least $ 10,000 in damages from the abortion provider or others in such a case.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton told the Supreme Court that abortion groups could not get their way because they sued state officials for failing to enforce the law. Their inability to temporarily block the law is “the result of their own litigation decisions, not an injustice forced upon them by the Fifth District.”

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