Texas introduced a draconian new abortion law on Wednesday, and the Supreme Court refused to block it.
The judges voted 5 to 4 against an injunction under the Heartbeat Act, which bans all abortions in the state after the fetus’s heartbeat is detected – usually around six weeks.
Despite extensive backlash from activists and US President Joe Biden himself, the court said the motion from women’s health groups failed to “carry the burden” required for an injunction.
It added that its decision “is not based on any conclusion about the constitutionality of Texas law” and noted that the ruling “does not in any way limit other procedural challenges to Texas law”.
Activists had called for the Supreme Court to intervene before the urgent abortion law could be passed, but the judges missed the deadline.
Michael M. Santiago via Getty ImagesA woman in New York protests after Texas passed the new abortion law
Hours after the Senate’s new Bill 8 was passed on Wednesday, Biden called the bill “extreme” and said it would “severely affect” women’s access to health care.
He promised that his government would “protect and defend” the constitutional rights of the 1973 Roe v Wade Act, which grants all women the right to have an abortion until the fetus can survive outside the womb. This landmark piece of legislation is now being challenged by the new Texas law.
White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Biden has long wanted to see Roe “codified” against Wade so that Congress could vote on the federal law precedent.
Not everyone at the Supreme Court was satisfied either.
Judge Sonia Sotomayor targeted her more conservative colleagues who voted not to issue an injunction against Senate Law 8.
She said the court had “tacitly agreed to a law being passed by a state that has disregarded federal precedents for nearly 50 years.”
Together with the other dissenting judges Stepher Breyer and Elena Kagan, she continued: “A majority of the judges submitted a motion to claim a blatantly unconstitutional law prohibiting women from exercising their constitutional rights and evading judicial control decided to head in the sand. “
Texas’s new abortion law is a huge limitation for people with uterus because very few people know they are pregnant at this point.
The Washington Post via Getty Images Pro-choice protesters perform outside the Texas State Capitol on Wednesday
The law also creates an incentive for the public to sue those they believe may have contributed to the termination of a pregnancy after six weeks by offering a minimum premium of $ 10,000 (£ 7,200) if they successfully sue .
This supposedly makes it difficult to challenge the law in court as private individuals are involved in enforcing it.
Pro-choice organizations like Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) had asked the Supreme Court to block the new law.
ACLU said Texas law would advocate “a bounty hunting program” with “vigilante lawsuits” to harass those seeking an abortion. It claimed that anti-abortion group tips had already been put in place.
Proponents of abortion rights say people will now be forced to leave the state to get dismissal, which will place a huge financial burden on them. There are fears that the new law could be replicated in other states.
Governor Greg Abbott also signed a bill in June that would ban all abortions in Texas if there were a constitutional amendment that gave states the power to change Roe versus Wade.