The Supreme Court has officially allowed the controversial Texas abortion law to remain in place.
Shortly before midnight on Wednesday (September 1) the nation’s highest court issued an order confirming it would not take action on the law as legal challenges to the statute move through lower courts.
The order was passed in a 5-4 vote and came less than a day after the state law banning abortion after six weeks to take effect. The order will allow the law to remain in place in the state despite emergency challenges filed by abortion providers and advocates.
The law, Texas SB 8, outlaws abortion procedures after six weeks –– which is sooner than many people even know they are pregnant. The law is one of the most restrictive in the country, as there is no exceptions allowed for sexual assault.
The law also allows private citizens to sue individuals assisting a person seeking an abortion or carrying out the procedure that violates the law. Citizens who win could get a minimum of $10,000 in damages and have their legal fees covered. This provision, Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. pointed out, created a tricky situation for the court since it is citizens –– not the state –– enforcing the law. Since no one has tried to enforce the law yet, and there was no single government entity they could take action on, the late-night issued order allowing the law to remain in place was made.
“I would grant preliminary relief to preserve the status quo ante –– before the law went into effect –– so that the courts may consider whether a state can avoid responsibility for its laws in such a manner,” Roberts, who dissented the order, breaking away from the other conservative justices, wrote.
The Court is set to consider taking another major abortion case from Mississippi in its next term, which starts in October.