On Wednesday night, the Supreme Court denied abortion providers’ request to block the Texas six-week abortion ban.
The Texas law, which effectively eliminates all abortion in the state, went into effect yesterday after the Supreme Court failed to make a ruling on abortion providers’ emergency request to block the law. In a 5-4 vote last night, the Supreme Court formally ruled not to block the ban.
“The Supreme Court’s ruling overnight is an unprecedented assault on a woman’s constitutional rights under Roe v. Wade, which has been the law of the land for almost fifty years,” President Biden said in a statement. “By allowing a law to go into effect that empowers private citizens in Texas to sue health care providers, family members supporting a woman exercising her right to choose after six weeks, or even a friend who drives her to a hospital or clinic, it unleashes unconstitutional chaos and empowers self-anointed enforcers to have devastating impacts.”
In the majority opinion, the Supreme Court left open the possibility for future challenges to be brought against the abortion ban, writing that “this order is not based on any conclusion about the constitutionality of Texas’s law, and in no way limits other procedurally proper challenges to the Texas law, including in Texas state courts.”
The court’s three liberal justices, Justice Stephen Breyer, Justice Sonia Sotomayor, and Justice Elena Kagan dissented the majority opinion along with Chief Justice John Roberts.
“Presented with an application to enjoin a flagrantly unconstitutional law engineered to prohibit women from exercising their constitutional rights and evade judicial scrutiny, a majority of Justices have opted to bury their heads in the sand,” Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote in her dissent.
“No federal appellate court has upheld such a comprehensive prohibition on abortions before viability under current law … Because the court’s failure to act rewards tactics designed to avoid judicial review and inflicts significant harm on the applicants and on women seeking abortions in Texas, I dissent,” she continued. “The court should not be so content to ignore its constitutional obligations to protect not only the rights of women, but also the sanctity of its precedents and of the rule of law.”
Texans seeking abortions after six weeks of pregnancy will now have to travel out of state in order to receive safe abortion care, which imposes burdensome expenses and disproportionately harms those that already face the most barriers to accessible health care, low-income people and people of color.
The Texas law not only prohibits abortion after six weeks of pregnancy, but it also incentivizes private citizens to sue anyone who helps a person get an abortion with a potential $10,000 reward if their case is successful.
“Complete strangers will now be empowered to inject themselves in the most private and personal health decisions faced by women,” President Biden continued.
“For the majority to do this without a hearing, without the benefit of an opinion from a court below, and without due consideration of the issues, insults the rule of law and the rights of all Americans to seek redress from our courts. Rather than use its supreme authority to ensure justice could be fairly sought, the highest Court of our land will allow millions of women in Texas in need of critical reproductive care to suffer while courts sift through procedural complexities.”
Sources: NPR 9/2/21; Feminist Newswire 9/1/21; Supreme Court 9/1/21; CNN 9/2/21; Planned Parenthood 9/1/21