The United States Supreme Court heard arguments Monday on the constitutionality of Texas’ Heartbeat Act.
The Texas law effectively bans most abortions after a fetal heartbeat can be detected, which typically occurs around 6 weeks after conception. The law is enforced through civil lawsuits against individuals who perform abortions illegally or who knowingly help women to get abortions after the baby has a heartbeat.
The private enforcement mechanism was a response to district attorneys stating their intent to not enforce any abortion bans, according to Republican Texas state Sen. Brian Hughes. While abortion bans are frequently blocked in court, Texas’ Heartbeat Act quickly resulted in a 50% decline in abortions performed in the state, according to The New York Times.
Justice Brett Kavanaugh questioned Texas about the prospect of other states creating laws with similar enforcement mechanisms to block constitutionally protected rights such as freedom of religion.
A federal judge has halted the enforcement of Texas’ Heartbeat Act, which banned abortions in the state after a baby’s heartbeat can be detected.
“It is ordered that the State of Texas, including its officers, officials, agents, employees and any other persons or entities acting on its behalf, are preliminarily enjoined from enforcing Texas Health and Safety Code,” Judge Robert L. Pitman wrote in his 113-page ruling, The New York Times reported.
Several major tech companies spoke out against the Texas Heartbeat Act, taking down pro-life websites and funding out-of-state abortions.
The “Texas Heartbeat Act” enacted May 19, prohibits abortions after the unborn baby’s heartbeat is detectable, with exceptions for medical emergencies. The law includes a provision providing a civil cause of action to sue a person who “knowingly engages in conduct that aids or abets the performance or inducement of an abortion,” and may result in a plaintiff receiving $10,000 or more for each abortion found to be in violation of the law.
President Joe Biden said Friday that though he respects Americans who believe life begins at conception, he does not agree with them.
The president discussed Texas’ Heartbeat Act, which the Supreme Court declined to block earlier this week, Friday morning with reporters. The law bans abortion after six weeks and allows “any person” to sue doctors, abortion clinics, or anyone who “knowingly engages in conduct that aids or abets the performance or inducement of an abortion.”
Progressives renewed their calls to abolish the Senate filibuster and expand the Supreme Court after it did not block a Texas law restricting abortion access from going into effect.
“Republicans promised to overturn Roe v Wade, and they have,” New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez wrote just after midnight Thursday, invoking the 1973 landmark Supreme Court case. “Democrats can either abolish the filibuster and expand the court, or do nothing as millions of peoples’ bodies, rights, and lives are sacrificed for far-right minority rule.”
The Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on the Supreme Court’s use of the so-called “shadow docket” — a method of issuing brief late-night rulings on key cases like the Texas abortion law.
“The Supreme Court must operate with the highest regard for judicial integrity in order to earn the public’s trust,” Judiciary Committee Chair Dick Durbin, who is also the Senate majority whip, said in a statement. “This anti-choice law is a devastating blow to Americans’ constitutional rights — and the Court allowed it to see the light of day without public deliberation or transparency.”
President Joe Biden condemned a ruling by the Supreme Court on Texas’ Heartbeat Act Thursday, saying the court’s decision “insults the rule of law.”
The Supreme Court ruled 5-4 late Wednesday night to deny abortion providers’ requests for injunctive relief against Texas’ new law banning abortion after 6 weeks. The president weighed in on the ruling Thursday morning, calling it an “unprecedented assault on a woman’s constitutional rights under Roe v. Wade.”
Liberal activists and progressive media compared Texas’ new pro-life law to the Taliban after it went into effect Wednesday.
“I am calling on Joe Biden and the UN to lead a humanitarian effort to airlift women out of Texas,” tweeted BotSentinel founder Christopher Bouzy. “The North American Taliban has seized control of Texas.”
Texas’ highly disputed abortion ban went into effect early Wednesday morning, uninhibited by any action from the Supreme Court.
Abortion providers had filed emergency requests to block the enforcement of the Heartbeat Act (S.B. 8), which bans abortions after the unborn baby‘s heartbeat can be detected. The Supreme Court did not intervene, though it still may do so.