The topic of discussion for this Constitution Monday is the Texas “heartbeat law” that prohibits termination of a pregnancy after six weeks. The Supreme Court ruled that abortion providers can challenge the law, and some abortion supporters believe that they won. However, the abortion ban remains in place. Jennifer Graham suggested that we look at the reaction of Justice Sonia Sotomayor to see who really won the decision.
Sotomayor, whose remarks on the “religious” nature of anti-abortion arguments made headlines during last week’s oral arguments for another abortion case, said, “The court should have put an end to the madness months ago, before SB 8 first went into effect. It failed to do so then, and it fails again today.
The “madness” to which Sotomayor refers is the nation’s most restrictive abortion law, which bans abortion after cardiac activity is detected in an embryo. The ban became effective Sept. 1, despite legal efforts to at least temporarily block it. It was challenged not only by abortion providers, but by the U.S. Department of Justice, which maintains that the law violates the U.S. Constitution and federal law….
At issue was a provision in the Texas law that allows anyone, regardless of where they live, to sue an abortion provider or anyone else who helps someone obtain an abortion in Texas after six weeks. The Guttmacher Institute, a nonprofit that advocates for abortion rights, calls this a “cruel new twist” in abortion restrictions, and others have called it a “sue thy neighbor” law that enables vigilantism for financial gain.
The Texas law, along with the Mississippi case (Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization) that the Supreme Court is considering, doesn’t mean that women can’t get abortions, only that they can’t get them in these states after six and 15 weeks’ gestation, respectively. In its indictment of the law, the Guttmacher Institute says that this is a hardship for Texas women who would have to drive hundreds of miles to get an abortion in Kansas or New Mexico.
After describing “the wailing and gnashing of teeth among abortion supporters,” Graham reminded her readers that the 49th anniversary of Roe v. Wade will be January 22, less than six weeks away now. No one knows what the Supreme Court will decide, but the ruling on the Texas law appears to be a win for those who oppose abortion.