Pedestrians walk past the US Supreme Court in Washington, DC, United States on Sunday, June 20, 2021.
Stefani Reynolds | Bloomberg | Getty Images
A Texas law banning most abortions went into effect Wednesday after the Supreme Court failed to respond to an urgency complaint to block its enforcement.
A group of abortion providers and advocates, including Planned Parenthood, had asked the Supreme Court to temporarily block enforcement of the law that would ban most abortions as early as six weeks of gestation.
The petitioners say the law would set Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 case that enshrined women’s right to abortion, essentially overturning it.
In response, a group of Texas officials, including Attorney General Ken Paxton, urged the Supreme Court to reject their opponents’ offer to thwart the law, calling the request “bold”.
SB 8 was enacted in May by Republican Governor Greg Abbott. It prohibits doctors from performing or having abortions after they “detect a fetal heartbeat in the unborn child” except in medical emergencies.
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The law prohibits state officials from enforcing these rules. Rather, it empowers anyone to bring civil actions against anyone who performs abortions or “helps or assists” them after a heartbeat is detected. These lawsuits can earn a minimum of $ 10,000 in “legal damages” per abortion.
If it went into effect, the bill would “immediately and catastrophically restrict access to abortion in Texas, ban the care of at least 85% of abortion patients in Texas,” and likely force many providers to shut down, the urgency motion filed Monday said .
This motion was filed directly with Conservative Judge Samuel Alito, who is handling inquiries from the Lone Star State. It was filed days after a lower appeals court refused to block implementation of the law.
Alito had asked respondents to respond to the appeal by 5 p.m. ET Tuesday.
“In less than two days, Texan politicians will have effectively overthrown Roe v. Wade,” said Nancy Northup, CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights, whose organization helped the Supreme Court filing the motion, in a statement Monday.
The Supreme Court, which has a conservative majority of 6: 3 after the administration of former President Donald Trump, is already supposed to hear arguments in a potentially decisive abortion case from Mississippi. This state has urged judges to reconsider existing precedents preventing states from banning abortions that occur before the fetus is viable.
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– CNBC’s Christine Wang contributed to this report.