A U.S. Supreme Court decision Thursday dealt another blow to the Texas abortion industry by sending its lawsuit against the state heartbeat law back to a federal appeals court that previously allowed the legislation to go into effect.
The Associated Press reports the pro-abortion groups suing to overturn the pro-life law wanted the justices to send their lawsuit back to U.S. District Judge Robert Pitman, who blocked the law in October.
On Thursday, however, Justice Neil Gorsuch signed an order sending the case to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals instead, according to the report. Back in October, the Fifth Circuit rejected Pitman’s ruling just a few days after he issued it and allowed the law to go into effect again.
Pro-life leaders estimate that the heartbeat law, which bans abortions once an unborn baby’s heartbeat is detectable, about six weeks of pregnancy, has saved thousands of babies’ lives since it went into effect Sept. 1.
LifeNews is on GETTR. Please follow us for the latest pro-life news
The law includes a unique private enforcement mechanism that allows private individuals to sue abortionists and those who “aid and abet” in abortions in violation of the law. It is this provision that has been the main focus of the legal dispute thus far.
Earlier this month, the Supreme Court threw out a lawsuit from President Joe Biden and rejected the Texas pro-abortion groups’ request to temporarily block the law while their legal challenge continues through the courts.
While the high court ruled that the Texas abortion businesses may continue with their lawsuit, it also watered down their case by allowing them to sue state licensing officials but not the state judges and clerks who are charged with handling lawsuits spurred by the law.
Now, the Supreme Court is sending the case back to the Fifth Circuit for consideration, and abortion activists are losing hope — good news for the future of unborn babies in Texas.
“The Supreme Court left only a small sliver of our case intact, and it’s clear that this part of the case will not block vigilante lawsuits from being filed,” Marc Hearron, a lawyer with the Center for Reproductive Rights, told the AP. “It’s also clear that Texas is determined to stop the plaintiffs from getting any relief in even the sliver of the case that is left.”
Erwin Chemerinsky, dean of the University of California Berkeley School of Law, said he also was “stunned” that the Supreme Court allowed the law to remain in effect even though it violates Roe v. Wade.
“The court’s refusal to block the blatantly unconstitutional Texas law is also a strong signal that it is poised to overturn Roe v. Wade,” Chemerinsky wrote this week at the Los Angeles Times.
Texas abortion businesses are admitting a likely defeat as well. They essentially have no way to stop Texas citizens and pro-life groups from filing lawsuits against them, abortionists and abortion center staff who help abort unborn babies in violation the law.
And if the law remains in effect much longer, many Texas abortion businesses may close. According to the Texas Tribune:
Amy Hagstrom Miller, president of Whole Woman’s Health, which operates four clinics in Texas and is the lead plaintiff in the providers’ lawsuit, warned last week that the current volume of services is not enough to keep clinics open in the long term.
“Staying open is not sustainable if this ban stays in effect much longer,” Hagstrom Miller said. “We are grateful for the donors and foundations and folks who have been supporting us in the interim … but the future looks bleak if we can’t get some justice here.”
Ultimately, the abortion businesses’ legal challenge appears to be “doomed,” the report concluded.
And that’s great news for unborn babies. A new study found that, in just the first month of the law, abortions in Texas went down 50 percent. Since then, Texas abortion facility directors have reported even bigger drops in their abortion numbers, as high as 80 percent compared to the previous year, according to the Texas Tribune.
The heartbeat law has the potential to save tens of thousands of unborn babies from abortion every year. In 2020, about 54,000 unborn babies were aborted in Texas, and about 85 percent happened after six weeks of pregnancy, according to state health statistics.