Two months after refusing to intervene, the Supreme Court of USA listen to the challenges to the Texas law prohibiting abortions after six weeks of pregnancy and that it does not contemplate exceptions for rape or incest.
The nine-member court, which includes six conservative judges, will listen to the arguments of the parties for two hours in a case closely watched across the country for its human and political implications.
Texas, the second-largest state in the country, is being sued by the Democratic president’s Justice Department Joe Biden and a coalition of Abortion service providers, for enacting restrictions on abortion that, according to them, are “clearly unconstitutional.”
Texas Senate Bill 8 (SB8) bans abortions after the heartbeat can be detected in utero, which typically happens around six weeks, when many women don’t even know they are pregnant.
Laws restricting abortion have been passed in other Republican-led states, but the courts struck them down because they violated previous Supreme Court rulings guaranteeing the right to abort until the fetus is viable outside the womb, which usually happens between weeks. 22 and 24.
The “Texas Heartbeat Law” differs from other efforts in that it gives any citizen the right to sue doctors who perform abortions, or anyone who helps facilitate them, once a heartbeat is detected.
They can be rewarded with $ 10,000 for starting cases that go to court, drawing criticism because it is alleged to encourage people to act as vigilantes.
The frame of the texas law has complicated the intervention of the Department of Justice because of a principle called “sovereign immunity,” explains Mary Ziegler, professor of constitutional law at Florida State University and visiting professor at Harvard University.
“The Eleventh Amendment to the United States Constitution limits the circumstances under which states can be sued,” Ziegler told AFP.
“The Supreme Court has created an exception that allows plaintiffs to sue for a court order when an official is enforcing a possible unconstitutional law,” she added.
“Texas says that under SB8, theoretically no official is allowed to enforce the law”Ziegler warned. “Texas has successfully argued to date that it is immune from lawsuits.”
“Why are they making me keep it?”
The abortion providers asked the Supreme Court to block the Texas law when it took effect on Sept. 1, but the court refused to do so, citing “procedural issues.”
Biden was one of those who criticized the court for failing to block a law that “flagrantly violates the constitutional right established in Roe v. Wade, ”the landmark 1973 Supreme Court ruling that enshrined a woman’s legal right to abortion.
On the ground, clinics in Texas, fearful of potential onerous lawsuits, closed their doors and the number of abortions in the state fell to 2,100 in September, from 4,300 a year earlier, according to a study by the University of Texas.
Planned Parenthood, one of the largest providers of women’s health care in the nation, submitted a 30-page legal report to the court with testimonies from women and physicians affected by Texas law.
A girl of Texas 16-year-old, identified as FP, said she is not ready to have a baby, but may not be able to afford a trip to another state for an abortion.
A single mother identified as DO claimed that she is seeking an abortion after she “finally ran away” from an abusive relationship.
One patient, identified as IO, was 12 years old. “The mother said they could not travel out of state, they had just arrived at the Texas health center,” says the letter.
The 12-year-old girl was quoted as saying, “Mom, it was an accident. Why do they force me to keep it?
Clinic staff reported crying with patients after telling them that they would not be able to perform abortions due to the new law.
“Is there a fifth vote?”
The Supreme Court could make a decision at any time after oral arguments, but it is expected to rule before hearing another abortion case on December 1.
In that case, the court will hear a challenge to a Mississippi law that prohibits abortion after 15 weeks.
At least four justices appear willing to block Texas law: the three liberals on the court and Chief Justice John Roberts, who raised concerns about SB8 when it previously appeared in court.
“Now the question is ‘Is there a fifth vote?'” asked Steve Vladeck, a law professor at the University of Texas, in a podcast.
Abortion providers are cautiously optimistic.
“We are hopeful the court will step in and stop SB8 from continuing to wreak havoc,” said Alexis McGill Johnson, President and CEO of Planned Parenthood.
Vladeck said he anticipates the court potentially “splitting the difference.”
“They could repeal Texas law but allow Mississippi law to remain on the books,” he warned. “And then everyone will be angry and the court can say ‘Look, we’re not partisan.’
Melissa Galbraith is the World News reporter for Globe Live Media. She covers all the major events happening around the World. From Europe to Americas, from Asia to Antarctica, Melissa covers it all. Never miss another Major World Event by bookmarking her author page right here.
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