The U.S. Supreme Court this week declined to act on an emergency request to block a Texas law that bars most abortions after six weeks, which went into effect on Tuesday at midnight.
Governor Greg Abbott signed the measure into law in May. Abortion advocates call it one of the most stringent in the country and say that the law conflicts with Roe v Wade‘s viability standard for killing the unborn.
“The legislature finds that the State of Texas never repealed, either expressly or by implication, the state statutes enacted before the ruling in Roe v. Wade, 410 U.S. 113 (1973), that prohibit and criminalize abortion unless the mother’s life is in danger,” the text of the law reads.
Under the law, a private citizen may file a civil lawsuit against an abortion provider or anyone who “aids or abets the performance or inducement of an abortion, including paying for or reimbursing the costs of an abortion through insurance or otherwise” if an abortionist detects an unborn baby’s heartbeat via ultrasound.
Women seeking abortions in Texas must undergo an ultrasound as part of a 24-hour waiting period and to make sure they’re within the legal limit to kill their unborn children. Minors seeking abortions in Texas must have the consent of at least one parent.
The court in Roe held that women have a right of privacy to kill their unborn babies until the stage of viability. The court contended that the state has a compelling interest to protect unborn life and restrict abortion if the baby can live outside the womb. During the second trimester, the state may regulate abortion “in ways that are reasonably related to maternal health.” During the third trimester, the state may restrict or ban abortion “except where necessary, in appropriate medical judgment, for the preservation of the life or health of the mother.”
“No freedom is more precious than life itself,” Governor Abbott wrote on Twitter on Wednesday. “Starting today, every unborn child with a heartbeat will be protected from the ravages of abortion. Texas will always defend the right to life.”
Legal challenges against the law are ongoing.