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Supreme Court denies another challenge to Texas’ restrictive abortion law

The hope was for the case to be sent to a federal court that previously blocked the law.

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On Thursday, Jan. 20, the U.S. Supreme Court has again denied to challenge Texas’ restrictive abortion law, which prohibits people from getting the procedure done after six weeks of pregancy, before most even know they are pregnant. 

The case is currently before the 5th U.S Circuit Court of Appeals, which sent the case to the Texas Supreme Court. That is expected to add months to the legal proceedings. 

Abortion providers were hoping that the U.S. Supreme Court would direct the 5th Circuit to send the case to federal district court, where a judge previously blocked the law

Since Sep. 1, abortions after six weeks of pregnancy have been banned in the state. The law was designed to dodge judicial review through a mechanism that allows private citizens to sue anyone who “aids and abets” in a prohibited abortion. 

Amy Hagstrom Miller, president and CEO of Whole Woman’s Health, which runs four Texas abortion clinics, told the Texas Tribune that her heart breaks every time their staff are forced to deny pregnant people care and turn them away. 

“This law is cruel and unconstitutional, and I am deeply disappointed that our judicial system has done very little to stop it,” Miller said. 

In their latest request to the high court, abortion providers argued that the 5th Circuit should have sent the case back to district court, and asked them to intervene. Three liberal justices agreed, but the motion was ultimately denied. 

“Just two days before the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, this Court has given anti-abortion politicians across the country the green light to continue passing cruel laws that push abortion out of reach. A nationwide abortion ban could follow if politicians are given the chance,” the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) wrote on Twitter. 

Yesterday’s ruling essentially guarantees that the case’s journey will be long and could delay the final word on the standing of Texas’ controversial abortion law for months. 

“Instead of stopping a Fifth Circuit panel from indulging Texas’ newest delay tactics, the Court allows the State yet again to extend the deprivation of the federal constitutional rights of its citizens through procedural manipulation. The Court may look the other way, but I cannot,” Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote in her dissent.

Her dissent was joined by Justices Stephen G. Breyer and Elena Kagan.
“The Court of Appeals ignored our judgment. As a result, an unconstitutional 6-week abortion ban remains in effect in Texas — as it has for over four months,’ Breyer wrote. 

Abortion providers and activists reacted with frustration that the case seems unlikely to resolve any time soon. 

“Once again, the Supreme Court has betrayed the people of Texas, who have been callously stripped of their constitutional right to abortion for more than four months now,” Alexis McGill Johnson, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said in a statement.

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