U.S. Supreme Court judges ruled 5-4 against blocking new Texas legislation that prohibits most abortions after six weeks of pregnancy on Sept. 1. The rule will remain in place while legal challenges are heard in lower courts.
Abortion-provider plaintiffs failed to reach the necessary threshold for the Supreme Court to issue an injunction, which suspends a statute before it takes effect.
Senate Bill 8, signed by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) in May, effectively prohibits abortions in the Lone Star State once a fetal heartbeat is found. This is usually after six weeks of pregnancy.
Since most women do not realize they are pregnant until the sixth week, the law essentially prohibits abortion across Texas. Several other jurisdictions have tried to enact similar legislation but different courts have prevented them from doing so.
The five-justice majority of Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito–plus Trump-appointees Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett–did not issue a published opinion with their decision. BL understands the court’s exact reasoning remains a mystery, including whether the Texas law would withstand a constitutional challenge on merit.
“The applicants now before us have raised serious questions regarding the constitutionality of the Texas law at issue,” Chief Justice John Roberts said according to Breitbart. “Their application also presents complex and novel antecedent procedural questions on which they have not carried their burden.”
Roberts stressed he did not want an injunction because it would freeze the status quo while courts considered whether Texas’s law violated the constitutional right to abortion. He feared this would leave him a slim chance of voting in favor of the law in future.
Liberal Justices Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan strongly opposed the Texan law in the same case, Whole Woman’s Health v. Jackson, No. 21A24.
BL understands lower court processes could be delayed until a citizen attempts to enforce the law against an abortion practitioner. This could keep the pro-life measure in effect indefinitely.
Whole Woman’s Health revealed abortion providers in Texas rushed to perform as many procedures as possible before the legislation took effect on Sept. 1.
Founding CEO Amy Hagstrom Miller confirmed all four of her Texan clinics were still open after the law came into force. Ultrasounds are available and preparations are underway to perform procedures for those without measurable fetal heart activity.
Houston Women’s Reproductive Services no longer performs abortions after six weeks according to Kathy Kleinfeld, the clinic’s administrator.
“There is confusion, frustration, desperation,” she said according to the Wall Street Journal.
Pro-life advocates applauded the legislation as an important moment in history.
“Right now in the great state of Texas, every single child with a detectable heartbeat is legally protected from being killed by the violence of abortion,” Live Action founding president Lila Rose said according to the publication. “This is a historic step forward for basic human rights but more progress must be made.”