A Texas law, which could effectively ban most abortions after 6 weeks, when a fetal heartbeat can be detected, went into effect on Wednesday morning, after both the Supreme Court and a lower federal court of appeals refused to rule on a demand from Texas abortion providers to stay the law pending further litigation.
“A controversial Texas law that bars abortions at six weeks went into effect early Wednesday morning after the Supreme Court and a federal appeals court failed to rule on pending emergency requests brought by abortion providers,” CNN reported. “The lack of judicial intervention means that the law — which is one of the strictest in the nation and bans abortion before many people know they are pregnant — goes into force absent further court intervention.”
CNN also pointed out that other “heartbeat bills” have been stayed before they were allowed to go into effect, making the Texas law an interesting exception. But the Supreme Court is not alone in refusing to rule on the stay; a lower federal court also refused to block the law because, unlike other “heartbeat” laws, the Texas measure authorizes civil — not criminal penalties.
“In the novel legal strategy, the state Legislature designed the law to prevent government officials from directly enforcing it. The move was meant to make it much more difficult to bring a pre-enforcement challenge because there are not the usual government officials to hold accountable in court,” CNN added. “Instead, the law allows private citizens — anywhere in the country — to bring civil suits against anyone who assists a pregnant person seeking an abortion in violation of the ban.”