All five of the U.S. Supreme Court justices who refused to block the Texas heartbeat law Wednesday were appointed by Republican presidents, including the three chosen by President Donald Trump.
Though about a dozen states have passed similar heartbeat laws, Texas is the first to be allowed to enforce its law. The others have been blocked by the courts. If upheld, the Texas law has the potential to save tens of thousands of babies from abortion every year.
Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett made up the majority in the 5-4 decision. Gorsuch, Kavanaugh and Barrett were appointed by Trump, who promised to pick judges who would change the “wrongly decided” Roe v. Wade.
As Newsweek noted, “The three justices appointed by former President Donald Trump provided the crucial votes to let the law—Senate Bill (SB) 8—go ahead.”
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Near midnight on Wednesday, the Supreme Court ruled against a request from pro-abortion groups to temporarily block enforcement of the pro-life law, meaning it will stay in effect. The majority ruled that Planned Parenthood, the American Civil Liberties Union and other pro-abortion groups did not provide sufficient reasons to justify blocking the law.
“The applicants now before us have raised serious questions regarding the constitutionality of the Texas law at issue,” the majority wrote. “But their application also presents complex and novel antecedent procedural questions on which they have not carried their burden. … In light of such issues, we cannot say the applicants have met their burden to prevail in an injunction or stay application.”
Chief Justice John Roberts, also a Republican appointee, dissented along with the three Democrat-appointed justices.
Texas abortion facilities have stopped aborting unborn babies after six weeks of pregnancy, but the court battle is far from over. Though the Supreme Court refused to block enforcement of the heartbeat law, the justices made it clear that they were not ruling on its constitutionality.
“In reaching this conclusion, we stress that we do not purport to resolve definitively any jurisdictional or substantive claim in the applicants’ lawsuit,” the majority wrote. “In particular, this order is not based on any conclusion about the constitutionality of Texas’s law, and in no way limits other procedurally proper challenges to the Texas law, including in Texas state courts.”
The case now returns back to the lower courts for consideration.
Still, the temporary ruling is significant. It has left many speculating about the courts’ willingness to overturn Roe v. Wade in the future.
The New York Times wrote: “[T]he ruling was certain to fuel the hopes of abortion opponents and fears of abortion rights advocates as the court takes up a separate case in its new term this fall to decide whether Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 decision establishing a constitutional right to the procedure, should be overruled. It also left Texas abortion providers turning away patients as they scrambled to comply with the law, which prohibits abortions after roughly six weeks.”
In 1973, the U.S. Supreme Court took away the states’ ability to protect unborn babies from abortion under Roe v. Wade, and instead forced states to legalize abortion on demand. Roe made the United States one of only seven countries in the world that allows elective abortions after 20 weeks. The court is scheduled to hear a Mississippi case in the fall that challenges this precedent.
Since Roe, nearly 63 million unborn babies have been legally aborted in the U.S. Polls consistently show that a strong majority of Americans oppose abortions in the second and third trimesters and many support heartbeat laws that protect unborn babies at their earliest stage of life.
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