The U.S. Supreme Court has rejected an emergency appeal to block an extremely strict abortion law in the U.S. state of Texas. The Supreme Court based its decision on Wednesday evening (local time) on "complex and novel procedural issues." In doing so, however, it made no ruling on the constitutionality of the controversial law. Several human rights groups had filed the emergency petition with the Supreme Court on Monday, hoping to stop the law from taking effect.
The decision was made by a narrow majority of five justices, three of whom were appointed by former U.S. President Donald Trump. Judges from the conservative camp thus form the majority on the nine-member panel.Liberal Justice Sonia Sotomayor called the decision "stunning" and said her colleagues had chosen to "bury their heads in the sand" rather than prevent a "patently unconstitutional law."
"Access to nearly all abortions has just been cut off for millions of people. The impact will be immediate and devastating," responded the civil rights organization ACLU. Republican Governor Greg Abbott had signed the law into law in May.The law, which took effect Wednesday, is known as the heartbeat law. It bans abortions once the fetus' heartbeat has been detected. That can be as early as the sixth week of pregnancy. Many women do not even know they are pregnant at this point. According to the ACLU organization, about 85 to 90 percent of women in Texas who terminate a pregnancy are at least six weeks pregnant. The only exception is for medical emergencies.
What is unusual about the strict regulation is that it allows private individuals to take civil action against those who help a woman have an abortion. This means there could be lawsuits against a range of people - such as someone who drives a sufferer to an abortion appointment, parents who pay for an abortion or health care workers.If the law remains in force, women's rights organizations fear a veritable hunt for anyone who assists pregnant women with abortions.
U.S. President Joe Biden reacted indignantly to the new regulation. The Democrat, like numerous women's rights organizations, argued that the law is unconstitutional. He said it violates the landmark 1973 Supreme Court ruling known as Roe v. Wade, which legalized abortions nationwide. He said his administration is committed to constitutional law and will "protect and defend" it.
Photo by Maria Oswalt