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After the Supreme Court’s inactivity, a 6-week abortion restriction goes into effect in Texas

After the Supreme Court's inactivity, a 6-week abortion restriction goes into effect in Texas

“What happens to this law in the end remains to be seen,” CNN Supreme Court analyst and University of Texas Law School professor Steve Vladeck said, “but the justices have now allowed the strictest abortion restriction since Roe v. Wade to be enforced for at least some period of time through their inaction.” The case comes as the Supreme Court prepares to rule on the constitutionality of a Mississippi statute prohibiting abortion beyond 15 weeks in the upcoming term.

After the Supreme Court’s inactivity, a 6-week abortion restriction goes into effect in Texas

They claimed that if the law is allowed to take effect, it will “bar care for at least 85 percent of Texas abortion patients” and that lawsuits will be filed against a wide range of people, including those who drive a friend to get an abortion, those who provide financial assistance, and even members of the clergy who assist a patient. By the time Wednesday morning got around, the restriction had already limited abortion availability. Whole Woman’s Health, which has clinics in McAllen, McKinney, Austin, and Fort Worth and was the lead plaintiff in the federal lawsuit challenging the prohibition, said it would only do the surgery if the patient agreed. “If the ultrasound reveals no embryonic or fetal heart activity.” One of the clinics, Whole Woman’s Health, reported that it was performing abortions Tuesday night, two hours before the ban was supposed to take effect. “Anti-abortion activists are outside, shining lights on the parking…we are under observation,” the clinic said in a tweet. The clinic claimed in another tweet, “This is how abortion care is provided. Defenders of human rights.” The Supreme Court’s reluctance to respond sparked a fierce outcry from abortion rights proponents shortly after the bill took effect. In a tweet, the ACLU stated, “Access to practically all abortion has just been cut off for millions of people; the impact will be immediate and terrible.”

Imaginative legal strategy

The state Legislature devised an innovative legal method to prevent government officials from enforcing the law immediately. Because there are no ordinary government employees to hold accountable in court, the move was intended to make it far more difficult to launch a pre-enforcement challenge. Instead, the law empowers private persons to file civil lawsuits against anyone who supports a pregnant woman seeking an abortion in contravention of the ban, regardless of where they live in the country. Opponents argue that the law is part of a new wave of anti-abortion legislation that will drive other states to follow suit. Texas authorities’ lawyers asked the justices to let the law take effect, claiming that the clinics have not demonstrated that they will be “personally damaged” by a bill that may never be implemented against them. The lawsuit comes as the justices have already decided to consider a Mississippi statute that prohibits most abortions after 15 weeks during their upcoming term. The Mississippi and Texas bills, according to pro-choice advocates, are a direct challenge to Roe v. Wade, the famous 1973 decision that legalized abortion nationally prior to viability, which occurs approximately 24 weeks of pregnancy. Initially, the clinics sued not just Texas Republican Attorney General Ken Paxton, but also state judges and clerks in Texas who had the authority to implement the statute. Mark Lee Dickson, the director of Right to Life East Texas, was also targeted.

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