Split Supreme Court Lets Texas Abortion Law Go into Effect, But Says Providers Can Sue

In the second much-anticipated abortion of the year, eight judges in the US Supreme Court ruled Friday that abortion providers can challenge a Texas law that banned most abortions. abortions in the state since it was authorized in September. But the court also ruled that the federal Justice Department could not intervene in the dispute, and it has refused to block the law so far.

However, the judges were sharply divided in their opinion in case. Majority opinion in Texas decision, Whole Woman’s Health et al. v. Jackson et al., did not directly address the fate of abortion rights in the United States. Instead, the conservative, anti-abortion majority on the court is expected to answer that bigger question in a separate case in Mississippi was debated on December 1.

In fact, the majority opinion, written by Justice Neil Gorsuch, directly admits as much. Whether the Texas attorney is constitutional or not “is not in court,” he wrote. “Nor is it wisdom [of the Texas law] as a matter of public policy. “

A hint of the upcoming controversy over abortion rights was included in a majority opinion written by Chief Justice John Roberts – and attended by three liberal justices. Texas attorney, Roberts wrote, “had the effect of negating the exercise of what we held to be a right protected under the Federal Constitution.”

Texas Law, called SB 8, similar to legislation passed by several other states over the past few years, which prohibits abortion after detecting fetal heart activity, usually around six weeks’ gestation. That is in direct contrast to the Supreme Court precedents of 1973 Roe v. Wade and in 1992 Planning Parenthood in Southeast Pennsylvania sues Casey, which says states cannot ban abortion until “viability,” about 22 to 24 weeks. Texas law also makes no exceptions for pregnancies resulting from rape or incest.

However, SB 8 is different from other state “heartbeat” laws because it has a unique enforcement mechanism that leaves state officials with no role. Instead, it leaves enforcement to the public, by allowing civil lawsuits against not only anyone who performs an abortion, but also anyone who “supports and aborts” an abortion. pregnancy, which may include those who bring patients to abortion clinics or counsel them. Those who sue and win will be guaranteed damages of at least $10,000. Opponents of the law call it “bounties” to encourage people to sue their neighbors.

Proponents of the law say it is specifically designed to prevent federal courts from blocking the law, as no state officials are involved in its enforcement and therefore should not be held accountable for it.

In particular, the enforcement mechanism that the Supreme Court considered during three hours of oral arguments was quickly scheduled for November 1. The question before the judges was not directly whether Texas’s ban would unconstitutional or not, but whether the abortion provider or the federal. the government can challenge it in court.

Ultimately, the court ruled that while abortion providers could sue some, but not all, of the Texas officials included in their case, the Justice Department could not intervene. In a separate, two-paragraph judgment, the court said the case was caused by the federal government’s attempt to intervene, United States and Texas, was “granted at random.”

The judges also noted that Thursday a state court in Texas The law is deemed unconstitutional, but that case affects only about a dozen individual lawsuits.

As she has done since the court first settled the case last summer, Justice Sonia Sotomayor has been harsh in her criticisms. By allowing Texas law to remain in effect, she wrote in a dissent, “The Court thus betrays not only the citizens of Texas but also our constitutional system of government.”

The case returned to federal district court in Texas.

KHN (Kaiser Health News) is a national newsroom specializing in the production of in-depth coverage of health issues. Along with Policy Analysis and Exploration, KHN is one of the three main activities in KFF (Kaiser Family Foundation). The KFF is a nonprofit organization privileged to provide information on health issues to the nation.


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