(LifeSiteNews) — Texas’ ban on aborting babies with detectable heartbeats is now being reviewed by the Lone Star State’s highest court, months after the U.S. Supreme Court allowed it to remain in effect while lower courts debated its constitutional merits.
Senate Bill 8, 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 September decision not to block it from taking effect. State health data indicates that Texas abortions dropped by 60% in just SB8’s first month on the books, thanks to it inducing abortion chains Planned Parenthood and Whole Woman’s Health to temporarily suspend abortions past six weeks in the state.
Oral arguments last November indicated that a majority of Supreme Court justices were at least somewhat sympathetic to the state-level challenges but less so to the federal one, and so the Court ultimately dismissed the federal challenge while ruling that pre-enforcement challenges to the law at the state level were permissible against some named defendants but not others.
Now, oral arguments have begun over Whole Woman’s Health v. Jackson at the Texas Supreme Court, which the group Texas Values explains will “answer the remaining question of whether the Heartbeat Law can be enforced by a small, limited number of state licensing officials. Such an interpretation would go against the plain language of the statute, which specifically requires the law to be enforced by private citizens and forbids government enforcement.”
“At the Texas Supreme Court, the U.S. Supreme Court or any court in between; we are confident the Texas Heartbeat Law will prevail,” said Texas Values president and attorney Jonathan Saenz. “This historic law has saved approximately 25,000 babies’ lives to date, and Texas continues on its way to being an abortion-free state.”
“The Supreme Court of Texas will examine whether certain state agencies have the authority to enforce the Texas Heartbeat Act under the state Constitution,” Texas Right to Life Communications Director Kimberlyn Schwartz added, Spectrum News 1 reports. “We’re confident that the Texas Heartbeat Act will once again prevail against the abortion industry’s attacks.”
Meanwhile, at the federal level the law will continue to be considered by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, which has ruled favorably on it in the past, despite left-wing efforts to have the case referred to the more abortion-friendly U.S. District Judge Robert Pitman.
Across the nation, pro-lifers are watching the Supreme Court with anticipation for eventual final resolution of the legal battle over the Texas law, which is likely to eventually be appealed to the justices again, as well as a ruling on Mississippi’s 15-week abortion ban, which could result in a long-awaited overturn of Roe v. Wade that would allow states to directly ban abortion at any point in pregnancy, without having to rely on novel enforcement mechanisms like the Texas law.