US Supreme Court says Texas abortion clinics can sue over lawon December 10, 2021 at 3:42 pm

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The Supreme Court leaves controversial Texas abortion law in place, but allows lawsuits

Pro-life and pro-choice protestors gather outside the Supreme Court as arguments begin about the Texas abortion law by the court on Capitol Hill

Image source, The Washington Post via Getty Images

The US Supreme Court has ruled that abortion providers can sue to challenge a controversial Texas abortion law.

The law, known as SB8, gives people the right to sue doctors who perform an abortion past six weeks, before most women know they are pregnant.

In its ruling, however, the court said that the law can remain in effect, leaving it in place.

Doctors, women’s rights groups and the Biden administration have heavily criticised the law.

The divisive law – which came into effect on 1 September – bans abortion after what some refer to as a foetal heartbeat. The law makes an exception for cases of medical emergency, but not for rape or incest.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists says that at six weeks a foetus has not yet developed a heartbeat, but rather an “electronically induced” flickering of tissues that will become the heart.

The Texas law is enforced by given individuals – from Texas or elsewhere – the right to sue doctors who perform an abortion past the six-week mark.

At issue at the Supreme Court was whether two groups – Texas abortion providers and the federal government – can sue to block the law.

Friday’s ruling means that lawsuits from the providers can proceed. With the decision, the ruling will head back to the district court.

Once back in the district court, the providers will now be able to file for a stay of enforcement and ultimately challenge the law’s constitutionality.

In the meantime, the law will stay in place. The ban has led to a steep drop in abortions, experts say.

Recently released research from the Texas Policy Evaluation Project found that abortions in the state fell by nearly 50% after the law went into effect, leading to an influx of patients seeking abortion care in neighbouring states.

On Friday, the Supreme Court separately dismissed a constitutional challenge to the law brought by the Biden Administration.

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