Texas Abortion Law Takes Effect as Supreme Court Delays Action

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  • 08/19/2022

A new Texas abortion law preventing abortion after about six weeks of pregnancy took effect Wednesday, after the Supreme Court delayed action on an emergency request by clinics and abortion-rights activists to block it.

As reported by the Wall Street Journal, when the court failed to respond Tuesday by midnight, the ban went into force, making it the most restrictive abortion law in effect nationwide. 

The law, enacted in May with a start date of September 1, says that a physician is prohibited from knowingly performing an abortion if there is a “detectable fetal heartbeat.” 

An abortion ban as early as six weeks into pregnancy conflicts with current Supreme Court precedent, which prohibits states from proscribing the procedure before the fetus is able to live outside the mother’s womb. 

Biden said the Texas law “blatantly violates the constitutional right established under Roe v. Wade and upheld as precedent for nearly half a century.” 

Though the law is in effect for now, the Supreme Court may still choose to act soon. 

Per the Wall Street Journal: 

Abortion-rights advocates typically challenge new restrictions before they go into effect by suing the government officials who would be in charge of enforcing the law. But Texas lawmakers devised a measure that shifts enforcement from the state to private parties. Under the terms of the six-week ban, private parties can file civil lawsuits against any person who allegedly performs or aids a banned abortion, or who intends to do so. Under the law, a successful suit entitles the plaintiff to collect at least $10,000 in damages per abortion challenged. State officials emphasized this feature of the law in papers filed Tuesday afternoon with the Supreme Court, arguing it was among many reasons abortion providers weren’t entitled to an emergency order blocking the law.

“This court cannot expunge the law itself. Rather, it can enjoin only enforcement of the law. But the governmental defendants explicitly don’t enforce the law,” Texas Republican Attorney General Ken Paxton and other state officials told the high court.

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