SCOTUS Allows Pro-Life Laws To Stay In Effect

Written By BlabberBuzz | Sunday, 23 January 2022 08:30
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On Thursday, the Supreme Court denied without explanation a request by abortion providers to send a Texas bill that bans most abortions after about six weeks of pregnancy back to a district judge who once blocked the law.

The highest court's three Democratic-appointed justices, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan, dissented from the six Republican-appointed justices who denied allowing the case to be sent back to the District Court of Travis County, Texas. Judge Robert Pitman ruled early in October against the state law.

On Monday, a three-judge panel on the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals sent the legal fight over the Texas law to the state Supreme Court, marking another critical setback for abortion providers who sued in federal court to block the law that took effect September 1.

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"When the mandate was issued, I had thought that the Court of Appeals would quickly remand the case to the District Court so that it could reach the merits and enter relief consistent with our ruling," Breyer wrote in his dissenting opinion.

"This case is a disaster for the rule of law and a grave disservice to women in Texas, who have a right to control their own bodies," Sotomayor wrote in a condemning note against the majority's decision. "I will not stand by silently as a State continues to nullify this constitutional guarantee."

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The Supreme Court's December 10 ruling kept the law's validity but offered a narrow window for abortion providers to continue litigation in lower courts against the measure. Four justices at the time said they expected Pitman would move fast; however, the 5th Circuit advanced Monday to send the case to the state Supreme Court to interpret a key provision of the law.

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"It breaks my heart every time our clinic staff are forced to deny pregnant people care and turn them away," said Amy Hagstrom Miller, President and CEO of Whole Woman's Health, which operates four Texas abortion clinics. "This law is cruel and unconstitutional, and I am deeply disappointed that our judicial system has done very little to stop it."

"Given the ongoing chilling effect of the state law, the district court should resolve this litigation and enter appropriate relief without delay," Chief Justice John Roberts wrote for himself and the court's three liberal justices.

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Under S.B. 8, abortions in Texas are banned after a fetal heartbeat is detected, usually around six weeks, and there are no exceptions for rape or incest. The Texas law lets people bring civil action against anyone who performs an abortion.

The Texas law, along with a challenge to Mississippi's abortion law, is deemed direct challenges to the Supreme Court's nearly 50-year-old Roe v. Wade precedent. A verdict in the Mississippi case is expected by June.

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