In an 8-1 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to allow the Texas Heartbeat Act, known as S.B. 8, to remain in effect, but also ruled that abortion clinics may proceed with their challenge to the law by suing a limited group of state licensing officials.
The justices dismissed a separate suit filed by the Department of Justice against Texas, saying it was “improvidently granted,” meaning the case should have never made it to the high court.
The law in question bans most abortions in the state after a baby’s heartbeat is detected, which can be as early as six weeks’ gestation. Under S.B. 8, private individuals are permitted to bring suit in state court against people who allegedly perform abortions.
“We are grateful that the Supreme Court practiced judicial restraint today and stopped the Biden administration’s pro-abortion campaign against the strongest pro-life law being enforced today,” said Texas Right to Life director of media and communication Kimberlyn Schwartz. “While we continue to fight for this policy in the lower courts, Texas Right to Life celebrates that the Texas Heartbeat Act will continue saving between 75-100 preborn children from abortion per day. The success of our efforts is embodied by each individual life that is rescued.”
But while pro-lifers celebrate the victory, Justice Gorsuch stressed that the court’s ruling was tentative and limited to procedural questions.
“In this preliminary posture,” he wrote in the majority opinion, “the ultimate merits question—whether S.B. 8 is consistent with the federal Constitution—is not before the court. Nor is the wisdom of S.B. 8 as a matter of public policy.”