Texas Supreme Court Effectively Ends Pro-Abortion Challenge to Heartbeat Bill

Groundbreaking success of pro-life bill inspires other states to adopt similar legislation

Texas Supreme Court Effectively Ends Pro-Abortion Challenge to Heartbeat Bill

Groundbreaking success of pro-life bill inspires other states to adopt similar legislation

The Texas Supreme Court ruled on Friday, March 11, that state officials lack the authority to enforce Senate Bill 8, also known as the Heartbeat Bill. Because of the unique way the bill is written, this effectively puts an end to abortion providers’ legal challenges against the law, and paves the way for more states, like Oklahoma and Idaho, to pass similar pro-life measures.  

In 2019, several heartbeat bills passed throughout the country. These pieces of legislation were designed to limit abortion to around the 6th or 8th week of pregnancy, when the preborn baby’s heartbeat is usually detected. However, these bills could never stand up in court due to the precedent set by Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey.

Texas’ Heartbeat bill is different.

Instead of leaving the enforcement up to state officials, the bill essentially deputizes private citizens to act as legal advocates for preborn life by allowing them to sue abortion providers and those who assist with an abortion for up to $10,000 on behalf of any child victimized. Abortion providers could also risk losing their medical license if sued. This distinction has made the law almost impervious to legal challenge, not that the abortion industry hasn’t tried.

In the latest legal case, the abortion advocates attempted to argue that state officials are involved in the administration as court clerks docket the lawsuits. The court disagreed, though it did determine that the medical licensing aspect was unenforceable.

The Texas Supreme Court ruled: “Senate Bill 8 provides that its requirements may be enforced by a private civil action, that no state official may bring or participate as a party in any such action, that such an action is the exclusive means to enforce the requirements, and that these restrictions apply notwithstanding any other law. Based on these provisions, we conclude that Texas law does not grant the state-agency executives named as defendants in this case any authority to enforce the act’s requirements, either directly or indirectly.”

Lila Rose, founder of the pro-life group Live Action tweeted this in response to the court’s action: “BIG WIN FOR CHILDREN IN TEXAS: The Supreme Court of Texas has ruled against the abortion industry in their litigation against the Texas Heartbeat Law. The law will continue to protect children with a detectable heartbeat from the violence of abortion.”

Pro-abortion advocates are disappointed in the decision.

On Twitter, Alexis McGill Johnson, president of Planned Parenthood, wrote, “Today is a devastating day for Texans and people across the country. The courts continue to give politicians the green light to move forward with unconditional copycat abortion bans—decimating access to abortion state by state, region by region. Patients and providers deserve better.”

By Monday, March 14, Idaho moved forward and passed a Texas-style heartbeat bill, with the Oklahoma Senate voting to approve a similar bill on March 10.

Photo: Alamy.com

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