The US Supreme Court on Friday agreed to hear on Nov. 1 a challenge to a Texas law that imposes a near-total ban on the procedure and lets private citizens enforce it – a case that could dramatically curtail abortion access in the United States if the justices endorse the measure’s unique design.
The justices took up requests by President Joe Biden’s administration and abortion providers to immediately review their challenges to the law. The court, which on Sept. 1 allowed the law to go into effect, declined to act on the Justice Department’s request to immediately block enforcement of the measure.
The court will consider whether the law’s unusual private-enforcement structure prevents federal courts from intervening to strike it down and whether the federal government is even allowed to sue the state to try to block it.
The measure bans abortion after about six weeks of pregnancy, a point when many women do not yet realize they are pregnant. It makes an exception for a documented medical emergency but not for cases of rape or incest.
Liberal Justice Sotomayor dissented from the court’s deferral of a decision on whether to block enforcement of the law while the litigation continues. Sotomayor said the law’s novel design has suspended nearly all abortions in Texas, the second most populous U.S. state, with about 29 million people.
“The state’s gambit has worked. The impact is catastrophic,” Sotomayor wrote.