The high court divides between 5 and 4 people to enact Texas abortion law

WASHINGTON (AP) – A deeply divided Supreme Court is allowing a Texas law banning most abortions to remain in effect, as it now removes most women from the right to abortion in the state’s second-largest abortion. nation.

The court voted 5-4 deny an emergency appeal by abortion providers and others trying to block law enforcement that went into effect Wednesday. But the judges also suggested that his order is probably not the last word on whether the law can be upheld because other challenges may still be posed.

Texas law, signed by Republican government Greg Abbott in May, prohibits abortion once medical professionals can detect cardiac activity, usually around six weeks and before many women know they are pregnant.

It is the strictest law against abortion rights in the United States since the Roe High Court decision against Wade in 1973 and part of a broader push by Republicans across the country to impose new restrictions on abortion. At least 12 other states have enacted bans in early pregnancy, but all have been blocked from entering into force.

The order of the high court declining to stop Texas law came just before midnight on Wednesday. The majority said those presenting the case had not complied with the high burden required for the suspension of the law.

“In reaching this conclusion, we emphasize that we do not intend to definitively resolve any jurisdictional or substantial claim at the request of the applicants. In particular, this order is not based on any conclusion as to the constitutionality of Texas law and in any way , limits other procedurally appropriate challenges to Texas law, including Texas state courts, ”the unsigned order said.

Chief Justice John Roberts disagreed along with the three liberal judges of the court. Each of the four dissenting judges wrote separate statements expressing their disagreement with the majority.

Roberts noted that while the majority denied the request for emergency relief “the Court’s order is emphatic in making it clear that it cannot be understood to uphold the constitutionality of the law in question.”

The vote on the case highlights the impact of the death of Liberal Judge Ruth Bader Ginsburg last year and the replacement of this President Donald Trump by Conservative Judge Amy Coney Barrett. If Ginsburg were still in court, there would have been five votes to stop Texas law.

Judge Sonia Sotomayor called the decision of her conservative colleagues “impressive.” “Filed with a petition for a flagrantly unconstitutional law designed to ban women from exercising their constitutional rights and evade judicial scrutiny, most magistrates have chosen to bury their heads in the sand,” she wrote. .

Texas lawmakers wrote the law to circumvent the federal court review, allowing private citizens to file civil lawsuits in state court against anyone involved in an abortion, other than the patient. Other abortion laws are enforced by state and local officials, with possible criminal penalties.

In contrast, Texas law allows private citizens to sue abortion providers and anyone involved in facilitating abortions. Among other situations, it would include anyone who drives a woman to a clinic to have an abortion. By law, anyone who successfully sues another person would be entitled to at least $ 10,000.

In her dissent, Judge Elena Kagan called the law “obviously unconstitutional,” saying it allows “private parties to carry out unconstitutional restrictions on behalf of the state.” And Judge Stephen Breyer said a “woman has a federal constitutional right to get an abortion during” the first stage of pregnancy.

After a federal appellate court refused to allow a speedy review of the law before it went into effect, opponents of the measure called for a Supreme Court review.

In a statement early Thursday following the high court action, Nancy Northup, the head of the Reproductive Rights Center, which represents abortion providers challenging the law, vowed to “continue to fight this ban until restoring access to abortion in Texas “.

“We are devastated that the Supreme Court has refused to block a law that blatantly violates Roe v. Wade. Right now, people seeking abortion across Texas are panicking; they have no idea where or when they can Texas politicians have so far managed to mock the rule of law, increase attention to abortion in Texas, and force patients to leave the state (if they have the means) to get constitutionally protected health care.This should cause chills in the spine of all people in this country who care about the constitution, ”he said.

Texas has long had some of the toughest abortion restrictions in the country, including a general law passed in 2013. The Supreme Court ended the law, but not before more than half of the more than 40 were closed. state clinics.

Even before the Texas case reached the high court, judges had planned to address the issue of abortion rights in a major case after the court began hearing arguments in the fall.. This case involves the state of Mississippi, which is asking to be allowed to enforce an abortion ban after 15 weeks of pregnancy.

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Associated Press writer Paul J. Weber in Austin, Texas, contributed to this report.

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