Texas abortion advocates have asked the U.S. Supreme Court to urgently intervene in their challenge against Senate Bill 8 — the state’s new law that effectively bans abortion after six weeks gestational age.
In a new filing Thursday, a coalition of abortion providers led by Whole Woman’s Health and including several abortion funds and support organizations are asking the high court to hear the motions to have the case dismissed. Right now, the state’s request is waiting for a reply from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit, which would weigh in by December at the earliest, according to the filing. Thursday’s filing asks for the Supreme Court to hear this appeal on an expedited basis, without needing a ruling from the 5th Circuit first.
As of today, SB 8 has been in effect in Texas for 23 days. In Thursday’s filing, the plaintiffs point out to the Supreme Court that SB 8 has changed the landscape for abortion access in the state, as evidenced by the “surge of Texans seeking out-of-state appointments for this time-sensitive medical care.” And even that, as the filing notes, is reserved for those Texans who have access to the financial means needed to make such arrangements for out-of-state care. But anyone who does not, including those in sensitive domestic situations and undocumented immigrants, “must carry to term or seek ways to induce an abortion without medical assistance, as reports now suggest more Texans are doing,” the filing reads.
This filing represents a new legal strategy in asking the Supreme Court to intervene when it comes to the constitutionality of SB 8, a law that seemingly flies in the face of Roe v. Wade and other Supreme Court precedent on bans on abortion before a fetus would be viable outside of the uterus.
Before SB 8 went into effect, the plaintiffs in the federal suit asked the Supreme Court to block the law from taking effect. The justices ruled 5-4 to let the law stand not on the substance of the actual law and its constitutionality, but rather the part of the law that allows private citizens to sue people who aid or abet abortions after the six-week mark. The court’s majority opinion essentially argued that the court could not block the law largely because it is individuals, not officials, who are in charge of enforcement.
At that time, Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Stephen Breyer, Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor all dissented.