A Texas state law banning abortions at six weeks went into affect overnight on Wednesday (September 1) after the Supreme Court failed to make a ruling on the stature despite emergency requests filed by abortion providers.
The law is one of the strictest bans on abortion in the country and does not make exceptions for victims of sexual assault. The law also imposes a ban before many people might know they’re pregnant.
The law also allows individual private citizens to bring civil lawsuits against people who help a pregnant person seeking an abortion or provides that person the procedure in violation the ban.
The law does not require the person bringing the lawsuit to have a direct connection to the person and entitles them to a minimum of $10,000 in damages plus attorney fees if they win the lawsuit.
The court’s inaction allowed the first-ever six-week abortion ban to take affect, though the courts can still intervene.
“What ultimately happens to this law remains to be seen,” CNN Supreme Court analyst and Texas Law School professor Steve Vladeck said, “but now through their inaction the justices have let the tightest abortion restriction since Roe v. Wade be enforced for at least some period of time.”
Legal challenges to the law remain ongoing and the justices are set to soon rule on the constitutionality of a Mississippi state law that bans abortion at 15 weeks.
Two hours before the ruling went into effect, Whole Woman’s Health, a Texas clinic reported it was still providing abortions.
“Our waiting rooms are filled with patients,” the clinic wrote in a tweet. Providers in the state have said that the law effectively bars access to safe abortion procedures given the six-week time restriction.