Despite intense backlash from advocacy groups across the state, the new abortion restrictions law banning the procedure as early as six weeks of pregnancy passed the House Monday and is set to come into effect Wednesday. Abortion providers in Texas asked the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday to overturn the state’s new restriction.
Abortion rights advocates say the legislation is among the most “extreme” measures nationwide and does not exempt people pregnant because of rape or incest. Beyond the limitations on abortion access, the bill would let nearly anyone — including people with no connection to the doctor or the woman — sue abortion providers, and those who help others get an abortion in violation of the proposed law.
Senate Bill 4 remains identical to the version passed by the Texas Senate and will likely head to Gov. Greg Abbott’s desk. The governor has previously signaled his support for the bill.
The last-minute plea to the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday to overturn the state’s new restriction by Texas abortion providers follows months of unsuccessful attempts to overturn the law. Most recently, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals Sunday denied a request to block the bill and canceled a hearing scheduled for Monday, a move praised by the anti-abortion organization Texas Right to Life which helped draft the legislation.
In their application, the abortion providers argued that the law “would immediately and catastrophically reduce abortion access in Texas, barring care for at least 85 percent of Texas abortion patients (those who are six weeks pregnant or greater) and likely forcing many abortion clinics ultimately to close.” They said that they are at a minimum entitled to a decision on whether the law ought to be enjoined. If the Supreme Court does not act, they wrote, “applicants and thousands of other Texans will be stripped of their fundamental constitutional rights on Wednesday without ever receiving a decision on their fully briefed request for a preliminary injunction.”
“In less than two days, Texas politicians will have effectively overturned Roe v. Wade,” said Nancy Northup, president of the Center for Reproductive Rights president which represents the providers along with other groups. “We have filed an emergency motion in the Supreme Court to block this law before clinics are forced to turn patients away. Patients will have to travel out of state – in the middle of a pandemic – to receive constitutionally guaranteed healthcare. And many will not have the means to do so. It’s cruel, unconscionable, and unlawful.”