The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) has declined a challenge from opponents to a Texas law which is intended to prevent abortion after a heartbeat is detected. This is one of the most aggressive anti-abortion laws which has been enacted since Roe v. Wade and Democrats have been equally aggressive in attempting to stop it. By refusing to rule on the legislation the Supreme Court has now allowed the law to go into effect in Texas.
SCOTUS rejects abortion case
This is the first time such a “heartbeat bill” has been allowed to go into effect in any state without being rejected by a court citing Roe v. Wade.
Along with SCOTUS, a lower federal court also refused to strike down the controversial anti-abortion legislation, a major change compared to previous efforts.
The refusal is technically due to the fact that the Texas law is cleverly designed to specifically prevent defeat in a preemptive legal challenge. It seems to have worked.
The legislation does not allow the state government to bring criminal charges against individuals who are providing abortions to Texas residents.
Instead, the law allows private citizens to bring civil suits against abortion providers or anyone else who assists a person seeking an abortion after the new legal limit.
Patients themselves cannot be sued under the new legislation but citizens from anywhere in the country will be rewarded by the state for suing those who enable abortions.
A new legal strategy
Plaintiffs are eligible to receive $10,000 and to have their legal fees paid for by the state if they win a case against a valid target.
Texas is effectively employing a legal bounty hunting method to enforce its heartbeat bill using a method which SCOTUS or other federal courts are not yet able to intervene against.
Chief Justice John Roberts sided with the liberal justices in a 5-4 decision to not rule on the case. This ruling does not technically imply any legal opinion from the court but conclusions are already being made.
The justices are already planning to hear a challenge to a Mississippi law which restricts abortion. This will be an even more significant moment as it will involve a definitive ruling on abortion, a subject which the court rarely approaches.
Many Democrats are convinced that the majority conservative SCOTUS is already arranging a dismantling of Roe v. Wade, an idea which inspires some hysterical rhetoric.
Now that the preemptive legal challenge has failed decisively other state governments under Republican control will likely be quick to adopt similar methods to those now being used in Texas to limit abortions.