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Post at: Nov 26 2021

Texas Anti- Abortion Law

Why in news? 

  • On November 2, 2021 the US Supreme Court agreed to hear arguments against the Texas anti-abortion law that the court voted against banning in September this year.

What is Texas anti – abortion law? 

  • In May, 2021 Texas, US second largest state, passed a law also known as Texas Heartbeat Act, or S.B. 8 law which bans abortion after over six weeks of pregnancy.
  • The law prohibits abortions once medical professionals can detect cardiac activity, usually around six weeks — before some women know they’re pregnant.
  • It allows any private citizen to sue Texas abortion providers who violate the law, as well as anyone who “aids or abets” a woman getting the procedure.
  • Abortion patients themselves, however, cannot be sued.

What is the controversy?

  • It is the strictest law against abortion rights in the United States since the high court’s landmark Roe v. Wade decision in 1973.
  • Law goes against precedent created by the US Supreme Court itself that say that abortion is permitted prior to foetal visibility, which happens usually between 22 and 24 weeks of pregnancy. 
  • It lays down that any person residing in the state can bring a case against any person or organisation that enables an abortion after six weeks. That paves the way for an anti-abortion vigilante to come up.
  • Law has been structured and designed in a way that makes its federal and judicial review difficult.

What US Supreme Court has said in it's earlier decision ?

  • Hearing petitioners who wanted the law to be struck down as being violative of rights already guaranteed to women, the US SC in a majority 5:4 ruling decided to allow it to stand.
  • It ruled that the grounds had not been triggered that would require the court to look into the constitutionality of the law.
  • It further stated that while it had refused to stay it, the SC decision “in no way limits other procedurally proper challenges to the Texas law, including in Texas state courts".
  • But it is the “procedural" province where the Texas law represents a tricky proposition for abortion activists who would choose to challenge it.

What is the present case before SC?

  • Supreme Court will  hear two cases that challenge Texas’ ban on abortion
  • The first challenge is lawsuit filed by the US Department of Justice in which the court will decide whether the department has the authority to challenge the law and if the law can be blocked again. 
  • The second challenge, “Whole Woman’s Health v. Jackson” is a case filed against S.B. 8, “by a broad coalition of plaintiffs.
  • In this case, the Supreme Court will decide whether federal courts have the power to block Texas’ abortion ban.

Conclusion

  • Court’s decision in this case is significant as it might set into motion the passing of other such laws in both Democrat and Republican-ruled states.

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