Pro-abortion groups appeal to Supreme Court against Texas’ ‘Heartbeat Act’

Christine Rousselle   By Christine Rousselle for CNA

Pro-life and pro-abortion advocates outside of the Supreme Court during oral arguments in the case Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, March 2, 2016. / Catholic News Agency

Washington D.C., Aug 30, 2021 / 16:10 pm (CNA).

Pro-abortion groups are asking the Supreme Court to block Texas’ law that would allow private citizens to sue abortion providers for illegal abortions. The law bans most abortions in the state after the detection of a fetal heartbeat – as early as five weeks into pregnancy.

On Monday, several abortion providers, including Planned Parenthood’s affiliates in Texas, filed a motion at the Supreme Court requesting that Justice Samuel Alito issue an injunction blocking Texas’ law from going into effect before Sept. 1.

The “Texas Heartbeat Act”, S.B. 8, is enforced by allowing private civil lawsuits against illegal abortions.

In response to the motion by pro-abortion groups, the pro-life group Susan B. Anthony List stated on Twitter, “Planned Parenthood and the abortion industry continually run to the courts since they are losing hearts and minds nationwide.”

The head of the pro-abortion Center for Reproductive Rights, which is representing the abortion providers in the lawsuit against Texas, warned that the state “will have effectively overturned Roe v. Wade” if the law goes into effect.

Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights said that the law will force women seeking abortions to “travel out of state – in the middle of a pandemic” to get an abortion.

The groups appealed to the Supreme Court following their failed attempts in the lower courts to halt the law from going into effect.

After the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the law on Aug. 18, the pro-abortion groups asked for a court hearing on the law – which the Fifth Circuit canceled on Friday. On Sunday, the Fifth Circuit also rejected a series of emergency motions to block the law.

Texas’ law requires doctors to search for a baby’s heartbeat before performing an abortion. If a heartbeat is detected – which can be as early as five or six weeks into pregnancy – doctors are prohibited from performing an abortion except in a case of medical emergency.

The law is unique in that it is enforced by private civil lawsuits and not by the government; successful lawsuits are entitled to at least $10,000 in damages, plus costs and attorney’s fees.

Pro-abortion advocates say that the law creates a “bounty hunting” system that rewards people for filing lawsuits against abortionists.

The group Texas Right to Life created a website in late August that enables people to report anonymous tips of illegal abortions.

On Monday, Susan B. Anthony List said that the state legislature “acted on the will of the people,” passing a law “reflecting the scientific reality that unborn children are human beings, with beating hearts as early as five weeks.”

“We stand with Texas and hope that, soon, the Court will finally unshackle all states to be able to protect the most vulnerable among us,” the group stated. In its fall term, the court will hear arguments in the case of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, a case some legal experts say could result in the court’s Roe ruling being significantly altered or reversed.

“We are so gratified HB 1280, the Human Life Protection Act, and SB 8, the Heartbeat Act, passed and were signed into law by the Governor,” said Jennifer Allmon, executive director of the Texas Catholic Conference of Bishops in a statement in May.

Allmon said the legislation “goes a long way in building a culture of life in Texas.”

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