The Texas Supreme Court on Friday effectively shut down a federal challenge to the state’s novel and controversial ban on abortion after about six weeks of pregnancy, closing off what abortion rights advocates said was their last, narrow path to blocking the new law.
The decision was the latest in a line of blows to the constitutional right to abortion that has prevailed for five decades.
The Texas law, which several states are attempting to copy, puts enforcement in the hands of civilians. It offers the prospect of $10,000 rewards for successful lawsuits against anyone — from an Uber driver to a doctor — who “aids or abets” a woman who gets an abortion once fetal cardiac activity can be detected.
It is the most restrictive abortion law in the nation, and flies in the face of the Supreme Court’s landmark 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade, which prohibits states from banning the procedure before a fetus is viable outside the womb, which is currently about 23 weeks of pregnancy.
he wrote on Twitter.
Abortion rights supporters and legal scholars said the Texas law would encourage other states not only to pass similar bans on abortion, but to attempt to nullify other precedents they oppose.
The law allows no exceptions for abortion even in the case of women who have been raped or are victims of incest. It has thrown Texas abortion providers into crisis, and similar legislation is pending around the country.
The Supreme Court is considering a Mississippi law that bans abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy, and in oral arguments in December, the six conservative justices on the court appeared inclined to uphold that law.
Several justices indicated that they would vote to overturn Roe v. Wade outright, as Mississippi has asked. And lawyers for abortion rights groups argued that even if the court only upholds the Mississippi law, it would effectively overturn Roe because of its central holding on viability.
Already, state legislatures are advancing bans on abortion as if Roe were overturned. Some have passed outright bans on abortion that are to take effect immediately if the court rules to overturn Roe even “in part,” and others have prepared to ban the procedure at six, 10, 12 and 15 weeks.
amounts to a nearly complete ban on abortion in the state. It prohibits most abortions after about six weeks and makes no exceptions for pregnancies resulting from incest or rape. The law has been in place since Sept. 1.