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The United States Supreme Court Has Refused to Overturn Texas' Six-Week Abortion Restriction

The United States Supreme Court Has Refused to Overturn Texas' Six-Week Abortion Restriction

The US Supreme Court refused to overturn a Texas statute prohibiting abortions as early as six weeks into a pregnancy, preserving the country's most stringent anti-abortion rule. Governor Greg Abbott signed Senate Bill 8 (SB 8) in May, prohibiting abortion when an ultrasound detects a "heartbeat," which often occurs before a woman even realizes she is pregnant.

The law also allows “the public people at large” to sue anybody who assists a woman in obtaining an abortion, this could be an individual that drives her to the clinic or someone who provides financial support to acquire an abortion.

Likewise, there are no exclusions for cases involving rape or incest, and private individuals who file these claims must establish any relationship to the defendants. The Supreme Court dismissed a call for injunctive relief filed by Whole Woman's Health and others to stop the law from going into effect, stating that the plaintiffs failed to show that they are likely to succeed on the merits, that they would be irreparably harmed without an injunction, that the balance of equities favors the plaintiffs, and that an injunction is consistent with the Constitution.

The Court specifically cited the state's claim that "neither it nor its executive personnel have the ability to execute Texas law either directly or indirectly," and ruled that precedent does not allow it to issue an injunction against state judges sitting over a Texas lawsuit.

The Court further cited an affidavit made by a private individual who is also a defendant in this case, in which he claimed that he had "no 'present' desire to execute the law." As a result, the plaintiffs failed to meet their burden of proof in seeking an injunction, and the Court said that it is uncertain whether the listed defendants in this case can or would seek to enforce Texas law against the applicants in such a way that we may intervene.

Finally, the Court further said that this decision is not based on the merits of any substantive allegations and does not address the legality of Texas legislation, and that it "in no way restricts other procedurally valid challenges" to SB8, "including in Texas state courts."