WASHINGTON, D.C. (LifeSiteNews) – The Supreme Court convened today to hear arguments in multiple cases that will determine the fate of a recent pro-life law enacted in Texas that bans virtually all abortions in the state by six weeks of pregnancy.
The court will hear two cases, including one, United States v. Texas, brought by the Biden Justice Department, and another, Whole Woman’s Health v. Jackson, involving Texas abortion groups.https://www.youtube-nocookie.com/embed/ca5AGMqVpgU?feature=oembed&iv_load_policy=3&modestbranding=1&rel=0&autohide=1&playsinline=0&autoplay=1
The Texas Heartbeat Act, or S.B. 8, prohibits abortion once a baby’s heartbeat becomes detectable, typically by six weeks’ gestation. The legislation relies on a unique enforcement mechanism that empowers citizens, rather than the state, to sue abortionists and anyone else, other than the mother, who facilitates an abortion of a baby with a detectable heartbeat. Violations can result in fines of at least $10,000. The unprecedented pro-life law is currently the strictest in effect in the United States.
The Supreme Court took the cases on an expedited timeframe two weeks ago, after previously allowing S.B. 8 to take effect in a 5-4 vote at the beginning of September.
The justices have said that they will focus their review on the enforcement mechanism of the law and on whether the Justice Department has the standing to challenge it.
The Biden administration has made the law’s delegation of enforcement to private citizens the center of its legal challenge, though Texas argues that the provision furthers the state’s interest in defending unborn lives.
“The heartbeat provisions in SB 8 reasonably further Texas’s interest in protecting unborn life, which exists from the outset of pregnancy,” Texas attorney general Ken Paxton said in a brief before the Supreme Court filed this month.
“If it reaches the merits, the Court should overturn [Roe v. Wade] and [Planned Parenthood v. Casey] and hold that SB 8 does not, therefore, violate the Fourteenth Amendment,” he added.
U.S. District Judge Robert Pitman granted an appeal by the Biden administration in early October that temporarily blocked the law, though the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed that decision just two days later. The Supreme Court declined to block the law again upon taking United States v. Texas and Whole Woman’s Health v. Jackson this month.
On December 1, the high court is also scheduled to hear arguments in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, a case pitting Mississippi officials against an abortion center challenging a 15-week abortion ban enacted by the state in 2018. The case asks the Supreme Court to rule on the constitutionality of abortion restrictions before viability and has the potential to overturn Roe v. Wade.