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Supreme Court Takes No Action, Texas Abortion Ban Goes Into Effect

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Mary Margaret Olohan Social Issues Reporter
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  • Texas’ highly disputed abortion ban went into effect early Wednesday morning, uninhibited by any action from the Supreme Court.
  • Abortion providers had filed emergency requests to block the enforcement of the Heartbeat Act (S.B. 8), which bans abortions after the unborn baby’s heartbeat can be detected, usually around 6 weeks. The Supreme Court did not intervene, though it still may do so.
  • “Undoubtedly, today is a historic and hopeful day,” Human Coalition Action Texas Legislative Director Chelsey Youman said in a statement. “Texas is the first state to successfully protect the most vulnerable among us, preborn children, by outlawing abortion once their heartbeats are detected.”

Texas’ highly disputed abortion ban went into effect early Wednesday morning, uninhibited by any action from the Supreme Court.

Abortion providers had filed emergency requests to block the enforcement of the Heartbeat Act (S.B. 8), which bans abortions after the unborn baby‘s heartbeat can be detected. The Supreme Court did not intervene, though it still may do so. (RELATED: Judge Grants Temporary Restraining Order Partially Blocking Enforcement Of Texas Heartbeat Act)

“Right now in the great state of Texas, every single child with a detectable heartbeat is legally protected from being killed by the violence of abortion,” Live Action founder and president Lila Rose said in a statement. “This is a historic step forward for basic human rights, but more progress must be made.”

“I applaud the brave advocates and lawmakers in Texas for passing this innovative law designed to withstand the tidal wave of attacks from abortionists and their apologists,” she continued. “Citizens and lawmakers must be vigilant in their defense of this law because we know that the abortion industry is determined to profit from the deaths of as many children as they can.”

But MomsRising Campaign Director Diarra Aida Diouf slammed the news, warning that the law will result in “terrible harm” for women.

“It means anti-choice extremists will be able to use the courts to intimidate health care providers, abusers will be empowered to harass their victims and impede their access to health care, and health centers will be under constant legal attack,” Diouf said in a statement. “This law trounces trusted relationships between patients and their health care providers, undermines women’s health and autonomy, and creates financial incentives for intrusion into the most personal decisions women make. It will cause particular harm to people of color, people with low incomes, and young people.”

On Tuesday, Travis County District Court Judge Amy Clark Meachum granted a temporary restraining order in response to a lawsuit from attorney Michelle Simpson Tuegel. Meachum’s order enjoined “the Injunctive Defendants, and any and all parties in active concert and participation with them, from instituting any private enforcement lawsuits against Plaintiff under SB8.”

The order expires Sept. 14, and the defendants are Texas Right to Life and Texas Right to Life Legislative Director John Seago.

“What ultimately happens to this law remains to be seen,” CNN Supreme Court analyst and University of Texas Law School professor Steve Vladeck said, “but now through their inaction the justices have let the tightest abortion restriction since Roe v. Wade be enforced for at least some period of time.”

The law, which makes exceptions for medical emergencies but not in cases of rape or incest, has raised the ire of pro-abortion advocates as it allows “any person” to sue doctors, abortion clinics, or anyone who “knowingly engages in conduct that aids or abets the performance or inducement of an abortion.”

Those who sue over an abortion may be awarded $10,000 “for each abortion” the defendant performed, induced, aided, or abetted in violation of the law — monetary amounts that some pro-abortion advocates are calling “bounties.”

Center for Reproductive Rights President Nancy Northrop warned Monday that if the law is not blocked within the next two days, “Texas politicians will have effectively overturned Roe v. Wade.”

“Texans, like everyone else in this country, should be able to count on safe abortion care in their own state,” Whole Woman’s Health CEO Amy Hagstrom Miller said in a Monday statement. “No one should be forced to drive hundreds of miles or be made to continue a pregnancy against their will, yet that’s what will happen unless the Supreme Court steps in.”

Human Coalition Action Texas Legislative Director Chelsey Youman celebrated news that the law had gone into effect in a Wednesday morning statement.

“Undoubtedly, today is a historic and hopeful day,” Youman said. “Texas is the first state to successfully protect the most vulnerable among us, preborn children, by outlawing abortion once their heartbeats are detected. A fetal heartbeat is a clear and scientifically acknowledged sign of human life.”

“Human beings are worthy of protection at all phases of development and the importance of a growing human in the womb cannot be undermined in good conscience,” she continued. “We are confident in SB 8’s constitutionality. Legal challenges to SB 8 are groundless and will ultimately fail.”

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