Texas SB 8 abortion restrictions remain in place as an expert says Monday’s Supreme Court ruling is likely
WASHINGTON – It’s been nearly three weeks since the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments – and many expected – in two challenges to Texas’s novel new law that bans abortion after six weeks and allows individuals to enforce it through lawsuits meanwhile a judgment.
The judges appeared to be signaling that they wanted to quickly review the constitutionality of Senate Law 8 and decide when they put the case in the fast lane in October and presented oral arguments for November 1st on Monday, November 22nd, ruling.
“#SCOTUS will be delivering one or more statements on Monday,” tweeted Steve Vladeck, professor at UT Law School and senior analyst for CNN’s Supreme Court on Friday. “There is no * guarantee * that we will get the verdicts in the # SB8 cases, but it is * likely * that we will.”
Meanwhile, Texas law remains in effect preventing women in Texas from having an abortion after fetal heart activity is detected, usually around six weeks after pregnancy. That cutoff comes before some women know they are pregnant, and well before the approximate 22-24 week mark that five decades of Supreme Court rulings recognize and protect.
“Every single day that SB 8 is in effect in Texas is a travesty and injustice for Texans in need of abortion care,” said Caroline Duble, political director of Avow, a Texas-based abortion rights organization. “We are frustrated that the court is taking so long and we are frustrated with how they have handled this law since it first appeared before them.”
Anti-abortion groups, on the other hand, celebrate that Texas law remains in effect every day as a success.
“We are encouraged by the judicial reluctance of the Supreme Court,” said Kimberlyn Schwartz, director of media and communications for Texas Right to Life, in a statement. “Every day the Texas Heartbeat Act goes into effect is a victory as the law saves an estimated 75-100 babies per day from abortion.”
Judges likely took the time to rule on SB 8, not because of its early ban, but because of its unique enforcement mechanism. Rather than enforcing the law through the state government, SB 8 gives individuals the right to sue doctors or anyone else who helps a person achieve an abortion.
The law raises a unique legal question: can a state protect a law from review by federal courts by delegating enforcement to the public?
“For those of us who listened to the oral discussion or read the transcripts, it was very clear that [the justices] consider this a new legal basis, ”said Joe Pojman, executive director of the Texas Alliance for Life.
“I suspect that the enforcement mechanism worries the Supreme Court, not just about abortion but possibly other issues such as gun rights, freedom of expression and religious expression,” said Pojman.
The Firearms Policy Coalition, a California-based nonprofit that defends gun rights laws, warned Richter in a friend of the court report that “it requires little creative copying for states hostile to the Second Amendment … [to] establish a bounty system with the same unbalanced procedures and penalties adopted by Texas in this case. “
There have been relatively few lawsuits against health care providers and doctors. However, a recent study found that the number of abortions performed in the state fell by half in the first month after SB 8 went into effect, the largest documented decline in the procedure in recent Texas history.
“Many Texans are denied access to the care they need and want,” said Duble. “A lot of Texans have to scrape together thousands of dollars to travel out of the state.”
At a US House Oversight Committee hearing on SB 8 one month after the law went into effect, many women lawmakers took positions and gave emotional testimonies of their own experiences with abortion.
“I was raped, I got pregnant, and I decided to have an abortion,” said Cori Bush, a Missouri Democrat, of an attack while on a church tour. “How could I, 18 years old and hardly comb through, feed a child on my own?”
On December 1, the court will hear or hear a Mississippi ban on almost all abortions after the 15th week of pregnancy. Arguments in the Mississippi case are likely to focus more on fetal viability, as the law is more likely to challenge Roe-versus-Wade standards and be enforced by state officials.
Judgments from the court in both cases – on Texas’ SB 8 and the Mississippi Act – are eagerly awaited now that the court has a super conservative majority of six judges and the numbers to Roe vs. Wade, the 1973 milestone, who hails from a Dallas overthrow challenge a woman against an abortion ban in Texas.
In June, Governor Greg Abbott signed a law, House Bill 1280, that would outlaw abortion in Texas if Roe vs. Wade is overturned. Pojman said the Texas Alliance for Life and other groups helped draft the law regarding the Mississippi case.
“This is a law that completely protects unborn babies from abortion until the moment of conception and fertilization,” said Pojman. “And it will come into effect when the Supreme Court lifts the terrible Roe vs. Wade precedent to some extent.”
Duble said from a political advocacy perspective, Avow was already preparing for the midterm elections and the national elections in 2022.
“We are preparing for 2022, where we want to hold the legislators who have put this trend of anti-abortion restrictions and SB 8 into effect,” said Duble. “We plan to hold them accountable.”