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U.S. Supreme Court doesn’t block Texas abortion law, but will hear case

<i>MANDEL NGAN/AFP/AFP/Getty Images</i><br/>A group of abortion rights organizations and providers protest a Texas law outside the U.S. Supreme Court.
A group of abortion rights organizations and providers protest a Texas law outside the U.S. Supreme Court.

WASHINGTON, DC — The U.S. Supreme Court is not immediately blocking the Texas law that bans most abortions, but has agreed to hear arguments in the case on Nov. 1.

The court’s action on Friday leaves in place for the time being a law that clinics say has led to an 80% reduction in abortions in the nation’s second-largest state. Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote that she would have blocked the Texas law right now.

The Texas law bans abortions after cardiac activity is detected, usually around six weeks of pregnancy. That’s before some women even know they are pregnant. It is in stark contrast to Roe v. Wade, the 1973 landmark decision legalizing abortion nationwide prior to viability, which can occur at around 24 weeks of pregnancy.

In agreeing to hear the case under an expedited time frame, the court said Friday that it would focus specifically on the unusual way in which the Texas legislature crafted the law. Texas officials are barred from enforcing it. Instead, private citizens -- from anywhere in the country -- can bring a civil suit against anyone who assists a pregnant person seeking an abortion in violation of the law.

In the brief order, the court said it would look at whether a law can be written in such a way to insulate a state from the responsibility of enforcing it. It also says it will review whether the U.S. Justice Department can challenge the law in court.

Critics of the law say that it was written specifically to make it difficult to challenge -- and if the court did not step in to block such an enforcement mechanism, other challenges could be brought in areas like the gun control.

Article Topic Follows: Texas Politics

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