Texas Supreme Court strikes blow to heartbeat abortion ban lawsuit
Texas’ highest court has recommended that a lawsuit against the state law banning abortion as young as six weeks gestation be dismissed because state officials are not enforcing the pro-life measure.
The Texas Supreme Court ruled on Friday in the case of Whole Woman’s Health et al. versus Jackson et al. that state medical licensing board officials cannot enforce the law, which bans nearly all abortions after an unborn baby’s heartbeat can be detected, which is usually about six weeks after onset of a pregnancy.
Since the law allows private citizens to enforce the ban instead, the decision by the state’s highest court effectively nullifies the lawsuit filed by pro-choice groups.
Texas Right to Life, a pro-life group that supports a heartbeat abortion ban, celebrated the Texas Supreme Court’s opinion in a statement telling supporters the ruling was a “huge victory.” “.
“We have said from the start that the abortionists’ lawsuits must be thrown out,” the lobby group said.
“Parliament clearly never intended state agencies to be involved in enforcing the Texas Heartbeat Act, and the Texas Supreme Court agreed. This is not the last leg of the journey, as the case goes now return to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, but it confirms a positive path for the landmark law.
The Center for Reproductive Rights, which helped bring the lawsuit against the law, concludes that the lawsuit is effectively dead. Of the legal attempts to stop the Texas law, the abortion rights group argues that this lawsuit was “once the most promising.”
But now the Texas Supreme Court has ruled the lawsuit cannot proceed against the Texas Medical Board and state licensing officials, the only remaining defendants.
Although the case returns to the 5th Circuit, the CRC said in a statement that it expects the challenge to be “dismissed” in light of Friday’s ruling.
“This decision comes after the United States Supreme Court dismissed most of the case in December 2021, allowing only a small portion of the case to proceed to a lower court,” the statement said. CRC. “Today’s ruling will result in the remaining portion of the 6-week ban challenge being dismissed, meaning SB 8 will likely remain in effect for the foreseeable future.”
CRC President and CEO Nancy Northup said the decision shows that “[w]We are going through a moment of crisis not only for reproductive rights, but also for our justice system and the rule of law.
“With this ruling, the fragment of this case that we have left is gone,” Northup said.
“An unconstitutional six-week abortion ban continues unchecked in the state of Texas. The courts allowed Texas to override a constitutional right. We will continue to do everything in our power to right this wrong. »
Last May, Republican Gov. Greg Abbott signed into law Senate Bill 8, which bans most abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected, usually about six weeks into a pregnancy.
The law is enforced by private citizens who receive financial incentives to sue abortion providers or anyone else in Texas who helps a woman obtain an illegal abortion.
The law has survived multiple legal challenges, with the U.S. Supreme Court allowing the law into effect last summer and also declining to block the legislation last December.
According to data from the Texas Health and Human Services Commission, the number of abortions in the state the month the law went into effect fell about 60 percent from the previous month.
In its statement, Texas Right to Life said it was “grateful that the Texas Heartbeat Act continues to save thousands of lives, and we hope the judiciary will soon lead the way in protecting all unborn children in canceling Roe vs. Wade.”