A United States Supreme Court on Thursday refused a petition by the U.S. Department of Justice to put on hold Texas’s restrictive abortion law, which bars the procedure as early as six weeks into pregnancy.
The U.S. Fifth Court of Appeal said the law could stay in effect pending “expedited” further proceedings in the high profile legal challenge.
The Texas abortion law, which took effect on Sept. 1, makes no exceptions for pregnancies caused by rape or incest.
It also lets ordinary citizens enforce the ban, rewarding them at least $10,000 if they successfully sue anyone who helped provide an abortion after fetal cardiac activity is detected.
On October 3, women in the U.S marched by the thousands on the Supreme Court, the Texas Capitol and cities across the country to protest increasing state restrictions on abortion and advocate for maintaining a constitutional right to the procedure.
“No matter where you live, no matter where you are, this moment is dark,” Alexis McGill Johnson, president of Planned Parenthood, told the crowd at the “Rally for Abortion Justice” in Washington.
The law relies on ordinary citizens to enforce the ban, which makes no exceptions for rape or incest, rewarding them at least $10,000 if they successfully sue anyone who helped provide an illegal abortion.
Some of the demonstrators said the law would backfire on legislators. “I think more people believe in the issue of providing safe abortions than our legislature realizes,” said Andrea Roberts, 49, an Austin preschool director.
“Abort Abbott” appeared on several of the demonstrators’ signs and T-shirts, while others sported the Texas state slogan, “Come and Take It” next to a drawing of a uterus.
If the court overturns the precedent, abortion access would no longer be protected by the Constitution, leaving states free to ban it, limit it or allow it without restrictions.
The justices, in a 5-4 decision on September 1, already denied a request from abortion and women’s health providers to block enforcement of the Texas law.