WASHINGTON D.C., DC — Senate Bill 8, Texas' six-week abortion ban, has been in the national headlines this week as it officially takes effect. And almost 24 hours after it took effect on Sept. 1, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5-4 against putting the law on hold.
As early as next month, the Supreme Court will hear a case from Mississippi about an abortion ban for those pregnant 15 weeks or longer. That bill was signed into law in 2018, but the ban has been blocked by lower courts as inconsistent with Supreme Court precedent that protects a woman’s right to obtain an abortion before the fetus can survive outside her womb.
The Texas bill, SB 8 or the Texas Heartbeat Act, bans abortions once a fetal heartbeat is detected, which is typically at six weeks gestation and before most women know they are pregnant. The bill does not make an exception for survivors of rape or incest who become pregnant as a result of the crime against them. It only allows an exception for a medical emergency.
The bill also allows anyone to sue a Texas doctor who performs or has an intent to perform an abortion and recover at least $10,000 if the lawsuit is successful.
As part of their decision on the Texas abortion law, the Supreme Court majority said although they are not blocking the law, they are not addressing the constitutionality of it head-on.
A ban like Texas' hasn't been permitted in any state since the Supreme Court's ruling on Roe v. Wade, which legalized abortion nationwide back in 1973.
President Joe Biden called the Supreme Court's refusal to block the bill an "unprecedented assault on a woman's constitutional rights." He's pledged to launch an investigative effort in response to the ruling.
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