Supreme Court to Hear Arguments on Texas Abortion Ban on Nov. 1

The Supreme Court refused to block a sweeping Texas abortion ban for a second time, but in an unusual move, has also said it wants to hear arguments at the soonest opportunity.

The high court will hear arguments on whether the law should be temporarily blocked while legal challenges against it continue on November 1. 

The Department of Justice asked for the ban to be temporarily paused while lawsuits deeming the ban to be unconstitutional make their way through the court system. 

The Texas abortion ban, known as Senate Bill 8 (SB 8), is highly controversial, and the most restrictive ban in the country. It has already been subject to many legal challenges, both before it went into effect, and since it came into law.

Recently, a federal judge temporarily blocked the ban while the legal challenges against it continue, but a higher federal court reinstated it. 

The law effectively bans all abortions in the state. It prohibits abortions around the six week mark, which is before the majority of women even know they’re pregnant. Providers have said that it effectively has banned more than 80 percent of abortions, and some experts say the number could be much higher. 

The law differs from similar anti-abortion measures because it leaves enforcement to private citizen, practically making all citizens potential anti-abortion bounty hunters. Individuals can sue doctors, pharmacists, even Uber drivers — anyone who helps in any way a woman get an abortion.

Typically, states enforce the law. This has made it more difficult to challenge. 

The law was written in this backdoor manner in order to prevent it being immediately determined unconstitutional. The law directly conflicts with Supreme Court precedent, which says states cannot ban abortion before viability, which is the point at which a fetus can survive outside of the womb, approximately at 24 weeks.

The sneaky writing of the Texas law is to make it tough to challenge in federal court. 

The case has already been to the Supreme Court. Abortion providers brought it to the high court before it came into effect, asking the justices to step in to prevent it. But the court declined, and in a 5-4 ruling, refused to step in, allowing it to take effect. 

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