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Tuesday, March 28, 2023

Supreme Court adopts Texas law banning most abortions

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court is challenging a Texas law that nearly eliminated abortion in the nation’s second-largest state after six weeks of pregnancy, at least with a conservative justice that ruled the law. Questions have been raised about its effectiveness. Novel structure of law.

Justices are hearing arguments Monday in two cases about whether abortion providers or the Department of Justice can face federal court challenges to the law, which has an unusual enforcement plan its defenders argue shield it from federal court review. gives.

Justice Brett Kavanaugh, who previously allowed the law to take effect in a decision that divided the court 5-4, suggested that the unusual enforcement plan could be problematic.

“There’s a loophole that’s been exploited here, or used here,” he said, explaining that the question for the court is “whether to close that loophole.” Kavanaugh suggested that the “doctrine” and “whole sweep” of the 1908 Supreme Court case “would suggest expanding the doctrine here, arguably” and closing the loopholes.

In no case does the right to abortion outright imply abortion, but the impetus for lawsuits filed by abortion providers and the Justice Department is that the Texas law conflicts with historic Supreme Court decisions that barred the state from banning abortion in pregnancy. stops.

In the case of Mississippi’s ban on abortion after 15 weeks, Justice Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey. Those arguments are set for December 1.

The Texas law has been in effect since September, except for a 48-hour period in early October when it was blocked by a lower court.

The High Court was proceeding with Texas cases at an extraordinary pace less than two weeks ago, but only after dismissing a petition to block the law by a 5-4 vote in early September.

Five conservative judges were in the majority, including three appointed by President Donald Trump. Chief Justice John Roberts joined the court’s three liberal justices in disagreement.

The court did not provide any explanation for its decision to hear the cases so expeditiously.

The Texas ban, signed into law by Governor Greg Abbott in May, prohibits abortions after cardiac activity is detected in a fetus, usually around six weeks and some women learn they are pregnant.

The law makes exceptions for medical emergencies but not for rape or incest.

At least 12 other states have banned early pregnancy, but all have stopped taking effect.

But instead of state officials enforcing it, Texas law employs private citizens to perform or aid in abortion and prosecute anyone who performs an abortion. If they are successful, they are entitled to at least $10,000. Women who have an abortion cannot be prosecuted under the law.

During the debate on Monday, Roberts asked at one point whether the law could be challenged if Texas made the $1 million entitlement. The Texas attorney told him no.

The structure of the law threatens abortion providers with heavy financial penalties for violating it. Clinics across the state have stopped performing abortions once cardiac activity is detected.

The result, both providers and the Biden administration said, is that women who are financially capable, have traveled to other states and who do not have the means must either continue their pregnancies against their will or have them terminated. Other potentially dangerous methods have to be found.

Jonathan Mitchell, an architect of state and law, states in his brief that providers and the Justice Department do not have the authority to go to federal court and cannot sue state judges and clerks to enforce abortion restrictions. are not responsible. They also argue that there is no effective way to block the law, as federal courts cannot compel state judges to abstain from hearing lawsuits authorized by law.

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