Supreme Court allows Texas abortion bill to temporarily stand; Florida leaders press for tighter restrictions

by mcardinal

Willie R. Tubbs, FISM News


Policies that limit or would limit abortions in a pair of Southern states have created an opportunity for those fighting for the rights of the unborn to rejoice.

On Thursday, the Supreme Court ruled that Texas’ ban on abortions after the detection of an unborn child’s heartbeat would remain in effect and not be sent back to a lower court.

The Court had already ruled in favor of Texas in a pair of cases aimed at striking down the law, and Thursday’s decision extends the law while the justices hear a challenge about potential plaintiffs’ ability to sue Texas over the heartbeat bill.

The court is not expected to rule on this or other abortion laws until June, which led Justices Sonia Sotomayor, Stephen Breyer, and Elena Kagan, the court’s three liberal justices, to complain Texas’ law was being allowed to remain in effect indefinitely while the court addresses various motions.

“It has been over four months since Texas Senate Bill 8 (S. B. 8) took effect,” Sotomayor wrote on behalf of the dissenting justices. “The law immediately devastated access to abortion care in Texas through a complicated private bounty-hunter scheme that violates nearly 50 years of this Court’s precedents. Today, for the fourth time, this Court declines to protect pregnant Texans from egregious violations of their constitutional rights.”

Sotomayor later added she felt the court was allowing Texas “to extend the deprivation of the federal constitutional rights of its citizens through procedural manipulation.”

Developments in the nation’s highest court have pro-choice advocates in a panic that the end of Roe v. Wade is near.

On Friday, NPR ran a piece in which it outlined the history of the fight over abortion in the U.S. and the likelihood that a conservative-dominated court will end Roe v. Wade, the 1973 case in which the court ruled the Constitution protects a woman’s right to choose to have an abortion.

Were the court to overturn Roe v. Wade, abortion would not be outlawed. Rather, the matter would return to the states.

As outlined by U.S. News and World Report, the scope of abortion laws varies wildly at the state level, but a growing number of states have enacted stricter regulations. The latest state to move toward more restrictive abortion access is Florida.

While it has not yet been enacted and will almost certainly be challenged in court upon being signed into law, the Florida legislature is considering a bill that would prohibit abortions after 15 weeks, including in cases of rape or incest.

The law would also require two physicians to agree that an abortion is necessary in the case of fatal fetal abnormalities.

“I think recognizing that this is a baby and, at 15 weeks, those babies have eyelashes and eyebrows and fingers and all of those types of things,” Florida State Sen. Kelli Stargel told WSVN-TV, a Miami Fox affiliate. “We want to make sure that, if someone is going to make it a termination, they make it early on in that decision, not later.”

The bill still faces several hearings in both houses of the Florida legislature, but would take effect rather quickly, July 1, were it to reach the desk of Gov. Ron DeSantis.