WASHINGTON (LifeSiteNews) — The U.S. Supreme Court confirmed Friday that it will hear oral arguments over a Texas law banning abortion once a heartbeat is detectable and will not block enforcement of the pro-life law while the case is pending.
The Texas Heartbeat Act requires abortionists to screen for a preborn baby’s heartbeat and prohibits abortion if a heartbeat can be heard (generally as early as six weeks), with exceptions only for medical emergencies. Its unique enforcement mechanism, which “exclusively” empowers private citizens to bring civil suits against abortionists instead of state prosecutions, has been credited for the Supreme Court’s prior September decision not to block it from taking effect.
The Biden administration filed two appeals to block the law, the first of which was initially granted by U.S. District Judge Robert Pitman only to be reversed last week by a panel of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. The administration tried again Monday, and the Supreme Court agreed to hear oral arguments on the federal government’s standing to sue over the state law, without agreeing to block it in the meantime.
The specific issue SCTOUS will consider in the DOJ lawsuit is if the Biden Administration can sue Texas at all.
Texas has and continues to say the federal gov has no standing in this case.
Per @JanCBS – SCOTUS will not directly take on Roe v Wade when considering DOJ's suit.
— Rob Legare (@RobLegare) October 22, 2021
Alongside the decision, left-wing Justice Sonia Sotomayor accused her colleagues of “declin[ing] to act immediately” to prevent “grave and irreparable harm” to Texas women “who are entitled to relief now” because the heartbeat law may delay some abortions past the legal abortion window.
Even if the outcome of next month’s oral arguments does not address the validity of abortion laws themselves or judicial precedent on the subject, a conclusion that the federal government lacks standing to weigh in could be nearly as significant, by inspiring many more states to enact similar abortion bans.
One month after hearing arguments on the Texas law, the Supreme Court will also begin hearing oral arguments in another case, concerning Mississippi’s ban on abortion at 15 weeks. That case is more likely to elicit more direct reconsideration of abortion precedent, and as such is expected to be the most conclusive test yet as to just how pro-life the Supreme Court’s current majority truly is.
A decision to overturn Roe v. Wade would supercharge pro-life enthusiasm almost overnight by instantly banning abortion in the handful of states with either pre-Roe bans or “trigger laws” still on the books, and by empowering state legislatures to directly end abortion. A decision upholding Roe would likely have the opposite effect on pro-life morale, while also forcing activists to reevaluate their current political and legal strategies. The Court could also redefine Roe’s parameters to allow bans at earlier gestational lines while leaving the general “right” to abortion intact.