Texas abortion ban returns to Supreme Court; Gov. Abbott prepares to sign second anti-abortion legislation into law

El Paso News

A group of women is seen protesting against the abortion ban at the Capitol in Austin, Texas, earlier this month. Experts say the tactic that Texas is using — allowing private citizens to file lawsuits even if they aren’t directly affected — could come back to haunt Republican lawmakers if Democrats were to use the same strategy and against gun dealers, for instance. (Jay Janner/Austin American-Statesman via AP File)

EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — The Texas abortion ban is making its return to the U.S. Supreme Court.

On Thursday, a broad coalition of abortion providers and others women’s reproductive rights activists asked SCOTUS to expedite next steps in the case in challenging Texas’ Senate Bill 8 (SB 8), which implements a near-total abortion ban in the state afte six weeks of pregnancy.

The plaintiffs are asking SCOTUS to hear defendants’ motions to dismiss the case, which were denied by the district court and later appealed to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, where they remain.

Plaintiffs request that SCOTUS expedites procedures to hear the appeal without waiting for a further ruling for the Fifth Circuit.

“We’re asking the Supreme Court for this expedited appeal because the Fifth Circuit has done nothing to change the dire circumstances on the ground in Texas. We need this case to move as quickly as possible,” says Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights. “Right now, patients are being forced to travel hundreds of miles in the middle of a pandemic to find abortion care. But many people can’t afford to do that. We’re doing everything we can to block this ban and restore abortion access in Texas,” she adds. 

The plaintiffs say that SCOTUS intervention is imperative because the Fifth Circuit court set a schedule to prohibit the appeal before December.

Other lawsuits are also challenging the controversial bill.

A separate lawsuit challenging SB 8, brought by Planned Parenthood providers, the Texas Multidistrict Litigation Panel indefinitely stayed all proceedings in the trial court today.

In another federal lawsuit, the U.S. Department of Justice is suing Texas and asking that the law be blocked. A preliminary hearing in the case is set for October 1 in district court.

“This kind of scheme to nullify the Constitution of the U.S. is one that all Americans, whatever their politics or party, should fear,” said Attorney General Merrick Garland. 

Despite the fervor with which the federal government and reproductive rights advocates are fighting SB 8, states continue to pass anti-abortion legislation.

On Wednesday, state legislators introduced a doppelganger bill in Florida to ban abortion and Texas Governor Greg Abbott is set to sign a bill on Friday that will outlaw mailing prescription abortion medication.

Also on Friday, the U.S. House will vote on a federal bill that would protect against state abortion bans.

The bill, the Women’s Health Protection Act (WHPA), is a response to the hundreds of recent laws passed that block access to abortion care.

On Monday, President Joe Biden responded to a request by lawmakers led by Congresswoman Veronica Escobar (D-TX) to publicly support the WHPA.

The federal support can’t come soon enough for reproductive rights leaders in Texas.

“For 23 days, we’ve been forced to deny essential abortion care for the vast majority of patients who come to us. Most of those we’ve turned away told us they would not be able to make it out of Texas for care,” says Amy Hagstrom Miller, president and CEO of Whole Woman’s Health and Whole Woman’s Health Alliance. “I don’t know what happened to these patients after they left our clinics, but I can’t stop thinking about them. Forcing our staff to tell patients ‘no’ day after day is cruel. This chaos must come to an end, and that is why we are going back to the Supreme Court today,” she adds. 

For more information on SB 8, click here; for our complete coverage of Texas politics, click here.

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