The United States Supreme Court on Friday ruled that abortion clinics can pursue legal action over a controversial Texas law that bans most abortions six weeks after pregnancy.
But the US top court stopped short of repealing the law, known as SB8, which allows people to sue medical practitioners in Texas who perform abortions after six weeks. Most women do not find out that they are pregnant until later.
The law, which has been widely criticized by women’s rights activists and the government of Joe Biden, in effect makes abortions illegal in Texas, and is a direct challenge to Roe v. Wade, a landmark 1973 Supreme Court decision that ruled that a pregnant woman’s right to choose to have an abortion without excessive government restriction is protected by the US Constitution.
The Supreme Court’s ruling on Friday merely means that abortion clinics in Texas and the federal government in Washington have the right to legally challenge the law in lower courts.
If a judge were to block the legislation, the state of Texas would most likely file an appeal and the case would end up in an appeals court, where it would return to the Supreme Court.
Of the nine Supreme Court justices, eight voted in favor of allowing the case to proceed in lower courts, while conservative Justice Clarence Thomas voted against.
SB8, which took effect in September, did not allow for exceptions in cases of incest or rape.
Another highly contentious issue with the legislation is that it leaves enforcement in the hands of private individuals, rather than state officials as is customary, since it allows anyone to file civil suits against people who help pregnant women have an abortion if they believe they are violating the ban.
It also offers rewards of up to $10,000 to each plaintiff if they win their lawsuit.
No other similar law prohibiting abortion at six weeks gestation – when a fetal heartbeat can be detected – has gone into effect in the United States. EFE
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