In the middle of the night, pro-lifers won another victory for life when the U.S. Supreme Court refused to block the new Texas heartbeat law.
The justices ruled 5-4 against a request from pro-abortion groups to temporarily block enforcement of the pro-life law, meaning it will stay in effect for the time being, the AP reports.
“Today marks a new era in the Pro-Life world,” said Jim Graham, president of Texas Right to Life. “Our HISTORIC law took effect yesterday, and this decision means that Texas can protect preborn babies from abortion who have detectable heartbeats! No other state has accomplished this.”
Though about a dozen states have passed similar heartbeat laws, Texas is the first to be allowed to enforce its law. The others have been blocked by the courts.
In their ruling late Wednesday, the Supreme Court said the pro-abortion groups did not provide sufficient reasons to justify blocking the law, according to the AP.
“The applicants now before us have raised serious questions regarding the constitutionality of the Texas law at issue,” the majority wrote. “But their application also presents complex and novel antecedent procedural questions on which they have not carried their burden. … In light of such issues, we cannot say the applicants have met their burden to prevail in an injunction or stay application.”
Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett made up the majority in the decision. The justices who dissented were Chief Justice John Roberts, Justices Elena Kagan, Stephen Breyer and Sonia Sotomayor. Kagan, Breyer and Sotomayor also wrote separate dissents slamming the court for allowing Texas to restrict abortions.
Kelsey Hazzard, a lawyer and leader with Secular Pro-Life, said the justices did not rule on the constitutionality of the law. They basically said “it’s too early for the Supreme Court to get involved” and the lower courts should handle it first, she explained.
The heartbeat law has the potential to save tens of thousands of babies’ lives every year, including 100 every day. Signed by Gov. Greg Abbott in May, it prohibits abortions once an unborn baby’s heartbeat is detectable, typically about six weeks of pregnancy. Exceptions are allowed if the mother’s life is at risk. Unique from other heartbeat laws, the Texas legislation includes a private enforcement mechanism that allows people to file lawsuits against abortionists who violate the law.
Texas Right to Life expressed hope that its life-saving legislation will spread to other states and save babies from abortion all across the country.
“Texas Right to Life celebrates this phenomenal victory for tens of thousands of preborn children who will be spared the evil of abortion,” the organization said in a statement. “We are optimistic that the Texas Heartbeat Act will continue to survive ongoing and future legal attacks against this historic policy.”
The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear another major abortion case out of Mississippi in October, bringing even more hope that the justices will allow states to protect unborn babies from abortion again.
Other pro-life leaders also celebrated the Supreme Court’s decision Wednesday, while urging people to support mothers and babies in need across Texas.
“We are celebrating this decision for what it is, baby steps in the right direction toward the obvious conclusion that Roe is fatally flawed and must go,” said Students for Life of America/Students for Life Action President Kristan Hawkins. “Students for Life of America was founded as a Post-Roe organization, working for the day after Roe with help and support for mothers and their children, born and pre-born. We are now one day closer to that reality.”
Pro-life advocates are reaching out to pregnant women across Texas with compassion and understanding, offering resources and emotional support to help them and their babies. Earlier this year, state lawmakers also increased support for pregnant and parenting mothers and babies, ensuring that they have resources to choose life for their babies.
Texas Right to Life encouraged women seeking pregnancy help to visit its website for a list of resources. Find it here.
The American Civil Liberties Union, Planned Parenthood, Whole Woman’s Health and other abortion groups are suing to block the law. Their case now returns to the lower courts.
Whether the Texas law will remain in effect or ultimately be upheld as constitutional in court remains uncertain, but pro-life leaders are hopeful now that the Supreme Court has a conservative majority.
In 1973, the U.S. Supreme Court took away the states’ ability to protect unborn babies from abortion under Roe v. Wade, and instead forced states to legalize abortion on demand. Roe made the United States one of only seven countries in the world that allows elective abortions after 20 weeks. The court is scheduled to hear a Mississippi case in the fall that challenges this precedent.
Polls show Americans support heartbeat laws. An April poll by the University of Texas-Austin found that 49 percent of Texans support making abortions illegal after six weeks of pregnancy, while 41 percent oppose it. In 2019, a national Hill-HarrisX survey also found that 55 percent of voters said they do not think laws banning abortions after six weeks – when an unborn baby’s heartbeat is detectable – are too restrictive.