The Supreme Court on Monday will hear arguments in two cases challenging the Texas abortion law that bans most abortions after around six weeks of pregnancy.
The court will hear arguments in Whole Woman’s Health v. Jackson and United States v. Texas, both of which challenge the Texas abortion law.
On Monday, the court will deliberate on concerns around the structure of the Texas law rather than consider whether the law violates Roe v. Wade.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed the abortion ban into law in May. The law took effect in September and bans almost all abortions after a fetal heartbeat can be detected, at around six weeks of pregnancy. The law does not make exceptions for abortions in cases of rape and incest. The only time the law permits abortions is when the life of the mother is at stake or the pregnancy could cause “substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function.”
In addition, the Texas law allows private citizens to launch civil lawsuits against anyone who “aids or abets” an abortion after a fetal heartbeat can be detected. At least one such lawsuit has already been filed.
On September 1, the Supreme Court ruled 5 to 4 to allow the Texas law to go into effect, flabbergasting some of the court’s liberal justices.
Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor penned a vehement dissent, calling the court’s order “stunning.”
“The Court should not be so content to ignore its constitutional obligations to protect not only the rights of women, but also the sanctity of its precedents and of the rule of law,” she wrote.
Sotomayor told a group of law students that while she might not be able to change Texas’ strict new abortion law, they could do something about it.
“You know, I can’t change Texas’ law,” Sotomayor said. “But you can, and everyone else who may or may not like it can go out there and be lobbying forces in changing laws that you don’t like.”
She then caught herself, acknowledging that she was not supposed to be discussing a case currently before the court.
“But my point is that there are going to be a lot of things you don’t like” and can change, she added.
The Texas law is the first of two abortion laws the court is set to consider soon. On December 1, the court will consider a Mississippi law that bans most abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy.
The challenges to the restrictive state abortion laws come as conservative-leaning justices on the Supreme Court enjoy a comfortable six to three majority, which includes the three newest justices appointed by former President Donald Trump.
The Supreme Court began a new term last month, when it heard its first in-person oral arguments since the court began hearing cases virtually when the COVID-19 pandemic began.
Other major cases on controversial issues the court is considering include a case challenging the constitutionality of a New York concealed-carry gun law and a case involving whether state dollars should go to private religious schools.