Supreme Court Weighs Arguments in Texas Abortion Law

Supreme Court Weighs Arguments in Texas Abortion Law

The U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments Nov. 1 in an expedited review of Texas’ newest pro-life law, SB 8

SB 8, also known as the Texas Heartbeat Act, went into effect on Sept. 1 and bans most abortions in the state after a baby’s heartbeat is detected, which can be as early as six weeks’ gestation.

A study by the University of Texas at Austin’s Texas Policy Evaluation Project shows the number of abortions in Texas fell by nearly half following implementation of SB 8. Specifically, 2,164 abortions were performed in Texas in September 2021 compared to 4,313 abortions in September 2020—a 49.8 % decrease.

Many pro-abortion activists argue that abortion is a constitutional right. Yet pro-life supporters, like Live Action President Lila Rose, argue the complete opposite.

“There is no constitutional right to kill a child,” Rose posted on Twitter Nov. 1. “The illogical and insane fiction of Roe v Wade has severely eroded our legal system. Today is yet another chance for our Supreme Court to reconsider the madness and make progress towards equal protection under the law for all.”

While it’s expected that the High Court will one day soon need to address whether or not abortion is a constitutional right, the two challenges brought before the justices Nov. 1, Whole Woman’s Health v. Jackson and United States v. Texas, do not focus on the constitutionality of SB 8, but rather, the law’s unique enforcement policy, which authorizes individual citizens to sue anyone who helps a woman obtain an abortion after a fetal heartbeat is discovered.

In the first case, Whole Woman’s Health v. Jackson, a group of abortion providers is suing a district court judge, a district court clerk, the Texas attorney general and several other officials.

The providers argue that court clerks and judges are “participat[ing] in the enforcement scheme” by filing SB 8 complaints and issuing judgments in line with the law. And the attorney general and other officials are similarly blamed for defending the law in court. 

In the second case, United States v. Texas, the federal government says its “sovereign interests” could be “irreparably harmed” by the law’s enforcement.

But Texas Right to Life’s Legislative Director John Seago argues that the federal government does not legally have the right to sue and obtain a court order to prevent the law from being enforced.

“The Texas attorney general’s team … has proven time and time again that the federal government does not have the authority to ask a court to block a state law simply because the policy differs from their own ideological commitments,” he told “The Department of Justice has failed to show that they have legal standing to bring this case since the Texas Heartbeat Act does not threaten the federal government with irreparable harm.”

Above: Pro-life and pro-abortion advocates rally outside the Supreme Court during the Nov. 1 oral arguments.

Photo: Rod Lamkey-CNP/picture alliance/Consolidated News Photos/Newscom

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