Supreme Court leaves Texas abortion law in place, allows challenges to proceed

On Friday, the Supreme Court of the United States allowed the Texas abortion law to stay in place, although it allowed a legal challenge to proceed.

With the Court currently considering a case that could overrule Roe v. Wade, the fate of the Texas near-ban on abortion still hangs in the balance.

In an 8-1 ruling, the justices lifted a block on lower court proceedings, still allowing a lawsuit by abortion providers. A separate challenge by President Joe Biden’s administration was also dismissed on Friday. That allowance could make a way for a federal judge to block at least a portion of the nation’s most restrictive abortion law. The court also declined on September 1, the day the ban went into effect, to block the measure. 

The Texas law bans abortions after a fetal heartbeat has been detected (usually around six weeks), with no exception for pregnancies that arise from rape or incest situations. It also allows private citizens to sue anyone who conducts an abortion or assists a woman in the process of obtaining an abortion.

Another abortion case from Mississippi is currently before the Supreme Court, which could lead to overturning the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling that legalized abortion across the nation. While the ruling indicated states could restrict abortion, those restrictions could not pose an “undue burden.” Mississippi’s law, which had been blocked by lower courts, bans abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy.

Abortion providers and Biden’s administration had both asked the Supreme Court to block the Texas law as litigation is ongoing, but the Court declined to do so. According to White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki, Biden is “very concerned” that the abortion restriction was left in place, and she reiterated his support for Democratic-backed legislation that would solidify access to abortion nationwide.

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