Supreme Court Issues Another Procedural Blow to Texas Abortion Advocates

This Thursday, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against Texas abortion providers again in the on-going legal battle over the state’s controversial six-week ban, S.B. 8. This week’s decision was made regarding the issue of sending the case back to the original trial judge, an attempt by abortion advocates to move their challenge to the law out of the hostile 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

The Court’s previous ruling issued in December refused to block the ban outright, allowing it to remain in place while the Court determines whether parts of the law are permissible. While this decision did not eliminate all legal avenues to continue fighting the ban, it significantly narrowed abortion advocates’ options in federal court and legal experts agree that a speedy Texas Supreme Court ruling is not likely. In a petition filed earlier this month, lawyers at the Center for Reproductive Rights argued that procedural delays by the 5th Circuit are thinly-veiled attempts to stall legal challenges to the ban, thereby restricting abortion access across Texas in the meantime.

S.B.8 authorizes vigilantes to enforce the six-week abortion ban in Texas through civil lawsuits. The Court has already stated that it will not be ruling on the constitutionality of a six-week ban on abortion; rather, it will decide whether state governments can circumvent federal, constitutional rights by “delegating to the general public the authority to enforce that prohibition through civil action,” as well as if the federal government can file suit against Texas to stop the ban’s enforcement.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor has repeatedly been an outspoken voice for abortion rights throughout the Court’s deliberation on the legal challenges to S.B. 8; in response to this most recent decision her comments call attention to the smoke and mirrors tactics being used to restrict abortion access in Texas, stating, “Instead of stopping a Fifth Circuit panel from indulging Texas’ newest delay tactics, the Court allows the State yet again to extend the deprivation of the federal constitutional rights of its citizens through procedural manipulation,” and that “state officials knew that the fear and confusion caused by this legal-procedural labyrinth would restrict citizens from accessing constitutionally protected medical care.”

North Carolina House of Representatives Failed to Overturn Governor Roy Cooper’s Veto of an Anti-abortion Bill

The North Carolina House of Representatives failed to overturn Governor Roy Cooper’s veto of an anti-abortion bill that would have required physicians to treat any newborn delivered during an abortion and grant the infant the same protections guaranteed to other patients. Known as a “born-alive” bill, this abortion ban would have made it illegal for healthcare professionals to not actively try to save the life of an infant born during an unsuccessful abortion procedure.

This bill was yet another measure being pushed through legislature at the state level in order to weaken federal abortion protections. Over the past few weeks, multiple states have successfully passed anti-abortion bills, dramatically chipping away at abortion rights in access in the Midwest and South. Just last week, Missouri’s last abortion provider was in danger of shutting down due to anti-abortion regulations that put the Planned Parenthood clinic’s license at risk of expiring without renewal. Planned Parenthood president Leana Wen said that “this will be the first time since 1974 that safe, legal abortion care will be inaccessible to people in an entire state. More than a million people [will be] in a situation we haven’t seen since Roe v. Wade.”

Throughout the South, abortion rights have been under attack this legislative session: Louisiana passed a bill in May that would allow Louisiana voters to decide whether or not to change the state’s constitution to further restrict abortion access at the ballot box this October. The next week, Louisiana’s governor signed another anti-abortion bill banning abortion once a fetal heartbeat can be detected. A similar fetal heartbeat bill passed just weeks earlier in Georgia, effectively banning abortion after six weeks. In Alabama, the most restrictive anti-abortion bill in the country was passed in early May, which bans abortion even in cases of rape and/or incest, unless the woman’s life is in danger, and makes performing an abortion a felony.


Media Resources: The New York Times, 6/5/2019

Anti-Abortion Constitutional Amendment will be on Louisiana’s Ballot this Fall

On Tuesday, the Louisiana Senate passed a bill (HB 425) that would allow Louisiana voters to decide whether or not to change the state’s constitution to further restrict abortion access at the ballot box this October.

The passage of HB 425, also known as the “Love Life Amendment,” means that a constitutional amendment containing explicit language stating that Louisiana citizens do not have a right to abortion will appear on October 12’s ballot along with Louisiana’s gubernatorial election. Louisiana State Representative Katrina Jackson, a Democrat from Monroe and author of the bill said of it: “It would be the people of the state of Louisiana determining what they thought about life.

The proposed amendment would guarantee that nothing in Louisiana’s state constitution either protects a right to abortion or requires public funding of abortion care; this language is similar to Amendment 1 in West Virginia and Amendment 2 in Alabama, both of which passed on their respective state ballots during November 2018’s midterm elections. As is the case with Louisiana’s trigger ban, the constitutional amendment would not have any tangible effect on abortion rights unless the U.S. Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade. This soon-to-be amendment is yet another mechanism that abortion opponents have used widely, mainly in Southern and Midwestern states, to ensure that there is no room for advocates to protect abortion rights in the case of Roe’s fall.

Louisiana already has other anti-abortion laws on the books, including the “Human Life Protection Act,” passed in 2006, which would automatically and immediately outlaw all abortion in the state if Roe v. Wade were to be overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court. Laws like these are known as “trigger laws” or “trigger bans” and so far five other states – Arkansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Dakota, and South Dakota – have enacted similar bans. Currently, there are also numerous other proposed abortion bans in state legislatures in Alabama, Georgia, Indiana, Missouri, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Washington.


Media resources:, 5/19/2019; The Advocate, 5/21/2019; CBS News, 4/22/2019; Rewire News, 5/21/2019; Vox, 11/7/2018; The Guardian, 5/21/2019


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