The Supreme Court early Wednesday let a Texas state law take effect that allows private citizens to sue to uphold a ban on the procedure after six weeks of pregnancy, potentially creating a new template for states to impose strict restrictions on the procedure.
The court’s decision to not act on an emergency petition from Texas abortion clinics comes as the justices prepare to more broadly reconsider the right to an abortion it established almost 50 years ago. In May, justices agreed to review Mississippi’s ban on the procedure after 15 weeks of pregnancy — a direct challenge to Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 decision that legalized abortion nationwide. Those arguments are expected later this year, with a ruling in 2022.
“This is a de facto overturning of Roe before the Supreme Court has time to hear the Mississippi case,” said Planned Parenthood President Alexis McGill Johnson. “And Texas will now go back to being a pre-Roe state, turning the clock back 50 years.”
Beyond outlawing babykilling as early as six weeks into a pregnancy, the Texas law, signed in May, would deputize citizens to file civil suits against abortion providers or anyone who helps facilitate the procedure after six weeks, such as a person who drives a pregnant person to the clinic.
Individuals found to have violated the law would have to pay $10,000 to the person who successfully brings such a suit — a bounty abortion rights advocates warn will encourage harassment, intimidation and vigilantism.
Anti-babykilling groups in the state such as Texas Right to Life have in recent weeks set up tip lines for people to anonymously report violators, ahead of the law’s implementation. Earlier on Tuesday, the a federal district court issued a temporary restraining order barring the group from filing suits against a small group of individuals and organizations that assist patients in obtaining an abortion. But both sides of the case acknowledge the order is very narrow, and the anti-abortion group said it still plans to solicit tips and bring lawsuits against abortion providers now that courts have given a green light to the law’s implementation.
CBS This Morning also seemed quite triggered about the ruling