A divided Supreme Court broke its silence on Wednesday and declined to block a Texas law that bans abortions once a fetal heartbeat is detected.
The court voted 5-4 to deny an emergency appeal from abortion advocates to stop the law that went into effect on Wednesday. The court’s decision is not a final ruling on the law’s constitutionality and abortion providers will continue waging a legal battle over the measure.
But for now, aborting a baby with a heartbeat is now a crime in the state of Texas. The unique element of this bill is that private citizens can sue anyone who helps someone facilitate an illegal abortion. They can also be compensated up to $10,000.
“What unimagined joy to see Roe crumbling in front of our very eyes,” said Kyleen Wright, CEO of Texans for Life Coalition.
The “Heartbeat” Act (SB 8) bans most abortions in the state because the fetal heartbeat is detected around the six-week mark and before most women even know they are pregnant.
While the pro-life community is celebrating this as a big win, the White House calls the Texas legislature’s decision unconstitutional.
“This extreme Texas Law blatantly violates the constitutional rights established under Roe v. Wade which upheld as precedent for nearly half a century,” said Press Secretary Jen Psaki. “It will significantly impair women’s access to the health care they need, particularly for communities of color and low income. It also deputizes private citizens to bring lawsuits against anyone they believe who helps anyone get an abortion.
Statistics show there could be as many as 3,000 abortions in the U.S. each day. And while this heartbeat bill is expected to trim that number in Texas, it’s also reminding the country about life inside the womb.
“Of course the abortion lobby is freaking out and they’re saying, ‘Oh, you can put a bounty on someone if you take them to get an illegal abortion.’ But the answer to that is, well then don’t take someone to get an illegal abortion,” said Abby Johnson, a former director with Planned Parenthood.
Alexis McGill Johnson, president of Planned Parenthood wrote in a tweet that their abortion clinics would remain open in Texas, promising to help Texans, “navigate this dangerous law.”
Pro-life experts say SB 8 is expected to save 150 babies from being killed each day.
“The Supreme Court already has a major pro-life case in its hands to be considered this fall – the Dobbs V. Women’s Health Organization,” said the Vice President of Communications for Susan B. Anthony List, Mallory Quigley.
“They’re going to address the questions of whether the bans on abortion before the point of viability is unconstitutional or whether there are exceptions there,” she explained.