A new Texas law that would restrict abortions once a preborn child’s heartbeat is detected is poised to take effect this week, but the abortion industry is making last-minute efforts to stall the legislation, including an emergency application asking the U.S. Supreme Court to take up the case. Unless the Supreme Court intervenes, the law — considered to be the nation’s most effective anti-abortion legislation — will take effect on Wednesday.
The Texas Heartbeat Act was signed by Governor Greg Abbott in May and is set to take effect on September 1. It will restrict all elective abortions after a detectable heartbeat, which occurs as early as six weeks. The law is unique in that it allows private citizens to file lawsuits against someone implicit in committing an abortion, including the doctor who performs it or the person who pays for it.
As expected, abortion activists in the state were quick to pursue legal action to prohibit the law from taking effect. According to CNN, a district court initially scheduled a hearing for Monday to review the case after a lawsuit by the abortion industry. The Texas Tribune reports that more than 20 abortion providers hoped to persuade the courts to block the law during the hearing, but that hearing was canceled on Friday night by the Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
Seeing no other way to prohibit the law from taking effect, abortion proponents filed the emergency appeal with SCOTUS, claiming that the law will “immediately and catastrophically reduce abortion access in Texas.” It’s a move Texas Right to Life is calling pro-abortion groups’ “last, desperate option to try (to) block the law.”
“In less than two days, Texas politicians will have effectively overturned Roe v. Wade,” Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights, said in a statement Monday. “We have filed an emergency motion in the Supreme Court to block this law before clinics are forced to turn patients away. Patients will have to travel out of state – in the middle of a pandemic – to receive constitutionally guaranteed healthcare. And many will not have the means to do so. It’s cruel, unconscionable, and unlawful.”
Despite these efforts by abortion proponents, Kim Schwartz of Texas Right to Life is confident that the law will go into effect. “The Texas Heartbeat Act is the strongest pro-life legislation to pass the Texas Legislature since Roe v. Wade,” she said in an interview with The Texas Tribune. “This is a huge victory and could save thousands upon thousands of preborn babies. We look forward to the day that it’s going to be enforced — hopefully very soon.”
Editor’s Note: This post has been updated since its original publication.
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