The deeply divisive Texas law – referred to as the “fetal heartbeat bill” by many- that bans abortions after about six weeks of pregnancy and effectively outlaws the procedure in most cases that GOP Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed in May went into effect on Wednesday after US Supreme Court has declined to block it, Texas News Today reported.
Although Chief Justice John Roberts joined the three liberal justices in dissent, the court issued the ruling that denies an emergency appeal from abortion providers by a 5-4 vote just after midnight on Thursday, allowing the nation’s most restrictive measure to remain in effect.
The fiery dissent by Justice Sonia Sotomayor accused the court of failing to protect the constitutional rights of women by opting instead to “bury their heads in the sand”, called its order stunning and in defence of a breathtaking act of defiance of the Constitution and women’s rights.
The anti-abortion law, which is the most restrictive to go into effect in the US in years, has provisions that amount to a near-total ban on abortion in the state and abortion rights advocates claim it would catastrophically reduce abortion access in Texas for at least 85% of abortion patients and will ultimately force many abortion clinics to close.
Though the law, known as Senate Bill 8, prohibiting virtually all abortions after a heartbeat is detected makes an exception for medical emergencies, it also allows most private citizens to sue abortion providers – or others who help women get the procedure after that time frame -if suspecting that the provider infringed on the new policy and seek $10,000 per defendant.
Uniquely designed to put defendants at a financial disadvantage, Senate Bill 8 requires defendants to pay their own as well as the plaintiffs’ legal fees if the latter should win and all damages would go right into a plaintiff’s pocket.
On top of that, any abortion clinic could be sued multiple times by different parties for the same infringement.
Even President Biden blasted the law on Wednesday, underscoring that it blatantly violates the constitutional right established under Roe v. Wade and significantly impairing women’s access to health care, particularly for communities of color and low income individuals.
Biden specifically criticized the law’s outrageous provision that allows private citizens to sue abortion providers and anyone else they believe has helped another person get an abortion, vowing his administration will do everything within its power work to protect the 1973 Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion in the US.
“My administration is deeply committed to the constitutional right established in Roe v. Wade nearly five decades ago and will protect and defend that right,” he said.