by WorldTribune Staff, September 2, 2021
The Supreme Court on Wednesday rejected a petition from Texas abortion providers to block the state’s fetal heartbeat law from going into effect.
The Texas “heartbeat” bill bans most abortions once cardiac activity can be detected in an unborn child, which medical professionals say is about six weeks into a pregnancy.
Joe Biden on Thursday blasted the Supreme Court’s decision as an “unprecedented assault on a woman’s constitutional rights under Roe v. Wade, which has been the law of the land for almost fifty years. While the Chief Justice was clear to stress that the action by the Supreme Court is not a final ruling on the future of Roe, the impact of last night’s decision will be immediate and requires an immediate response.”
Biden said that his Gender Policy Council was created “to be prepared to react to such assaults on women’s rights. Hence, I am directing that Council and the Office of the White House Counsel to launch a whole-of-government effort to respond to this decision, looking specifically to the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Justice to see what steps the Federal Government can take to ensure that women in Texas have access to safe and legal abortions as protected by Roe, and what legal tools we have to insulate women and providers from the impact of Texas’ bizarre scheme of outsourced enforcement to private parties.”
NBC News reported Tuesday evening that “all 11 of the Planned Parenthood health centers in Texas” have “stopped scheduling visits after Sept. 1 for abortions past six weeks of pregnancy,” and that Whole Woman’s Health claims that its “four clinics in Texas will also comply with the law and prohibit abortion at seven weeks or less depending on the ultrasound results and if cardiac activity is detected.”
In the 5-4 decision on Wednesday, the high court noted that is wasn’t a ruling on the merits of the law, but “many pro-lifers have taken the majority’s willingness to let the law stand even temporarily as an encouraging sign,” LifeSite News reported.
The Texas law “relies on a unique enforcement mechanism,” the LifeSite report noted. “Instead of having the state prosecute violators, it ‘exclusively’ empowers private citizens to bring civil suits against abortionists, punishable by a minimum of $10,000 in statutory relief per abortion plus whatever additional injunctive relief is deemed ‘sufficient to prevent the defendant from violating this chapter or engaging in acts that aid or abet violations of this chapter.’ ”
Texas Right to Life (TRTL) has set up a website where it says concerned Texans can anonymously report abortionists who commit abortions after finding a heartbeat or without testing for one.
The Supreme Court majority in the ruling consisted of Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett.
Chief Justice John Roberts joined the court’s liberal wing, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan, in dissenting.
The Supreme Court is expected to offer a more comprehensive treatment of abortion in their upcoming hearing of a Mississippi law banning abortions from being committed past 15 weeks for any reason other than physical medical emergencies or severe fetal abnormalities.
“Various pro-life public officials, scholars, and activists have filed amicus briefs urging the Supreme Court to not merely uphold the law but take the opportunity to directly overturn both 1973’s Roe v. Wade and 1992’s Planned Parenthood v. Casey (which opened the door to some abortion regulations while reaffirming the ‘right’ to abortion itself),” LifeSite noted.
“Many pro-lifers see the case as the greatest test yet of the current justices, a majority of whom were appointed by Republican presidents yet have still disappointed pro-lifers and conservatives on various occasions.”