SCOTUS Allows Texas' Near Total Abortion Ban to Continue, But There's a Catch

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Posted: Dec 10, 2021 11:45 AM
SCOTUS Allows Texas' Near Total Abortion Ban to Continue, But There's a Catch

Source: AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin

On Friday, the Supreme Court of the United States issued a ruling in the case Whole Woman’s Health v. Jackson. The case deals with a Texas law, enacted Sept. 1, that implemented a near-total abortion ban in the state of Texas.

The law, S.B. 8, bans abortions after fetal heartbeat detection, which usually occurs at around six weeks gestation. S.B. 8 allows private citizens to sue individuals who provide an illegal abortion or aid or abet a woman seeking an illegal abortion. Those who successfully bring lawsuits under S.B. 8 can receive $10,000.

In Friday’s ruling, SCOTUS left S.B. 8 in place. However, the justices ruled that abortion providers have the right to challenge the law in federal court.

Previously, the Department of Justice (DOJ) also sued Texas over S.B. 8, as Townhall also covered. The justices said a separate lawsuit by Biden's Justice Department seeking to challenge the law in federal court could not move forward, as NBC News reported.

“I have previously described the havoc S. B. 8’s unconstitutional scheme has wrought for Texas women seeking abortion care and their medical providers,” Justice Sotomayor said in her opinion on Whole Women’s Health v. Jackson. “The Court should have put an end to this madness months ago, before S.B. 8 went into effect. It failed to do so then, and it fails again today.”

CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin called the decision a “sobering message for the country.” 

“This is a constitutional right that has been recognized since 1973, since Roe v. Wade. And the Supreme Court has said, now twice, that it's OK for Texas to take away this right from women," he said. "I think that is a very clear message of where they're heading on the Mississippi case."

He added that S.B. 8 "is a big change in American law” and that “Donald Trump's appointees have had the impact that he and his supporters have wanted.”

In September, as Townhall covered, SCOTUS upheld S.B. 8 after abortion advocacy groups submitted a last-minute request asking the Court to block the law.

The Mississippi case, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, deals with a 15-week abortion ban in Mississippi. Dobbs is the first case in decades that could potentially overturn landmark abortion cases Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, decided in 1973 and 1992, respectively.

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The pro-life organization Susan B. Anthony List (SBA) celebrated SCOTUS' ruling on S.B. 8, and hope it follows suit with the Dobbs case.

“We celebrate that the Texas Heartbeat Act will remain in effect, saving the lives of unborn children and protecting mothers while litigation continues in lower courts," the statement read. "Meanwhile, we anxiously await the Court’s decision in the Dobbs case in which the Court is directly considering the constitutionality of laws that protect unborn children and mothers prior to viability. Dobbs presents the biggest opportunity in generations to modernize our laws. We have great hope that the Court will return the issue back to the people to decide through their elected representatives, letting democracy and consensus prevail.”