The Supreme Court ruled to keep Texas’ controversial abortion ban in place — but agreed to listen to oral arguments about the order in a hearing next month.
The law, also known as SB 8, went into effect on Sept. 1 and outlaws doctors from conducting abortions once a fetal heartbeat is discovered, which usually happens around six weeks into a pregnancy. On Friday (Oct. 22), the court said it will review whether the U.S. Justice Department can challenge the legislation and it will examine how it was crafted.
Following the Supreme Court’s ruling, Justice Sonia Sotomayor blasted her colleagues for continuing to allow the law to remain in effect.
She wrote in a dissent that the expedited schedule of an upcoming hearing offers “cold comfort” for women in the state seeking abortion care and she said that “the impact is catastrophic.”
“For the second time, the court is presented with an application to enjoin a statute enacted in open disregard of the constitutional rights of women seeking abortion care in Texas,” Sotomayor wrote. “For the second time, the court declines to act immediately to protect these women from grave and irreparable harm.”
She added that while the court was “right” to schedule arguments for the case, it won’t help women who need or want an abortion in Texas now.
“The promise of future adjudication offers cold comfort, however, for Texas women seeking abortion care, who are entitled to relief now,” she wrote. “These women will suffer personal harm from delaying their medical care, and as their pregnancies progress, they may even be unable to obtain abortion care altogether.”
Currently, under SB 8, anyone who helps a woman access an abortion in Texas after six weeks can be sued by private citizens for $10,000 or more in damages. The Justice Department has filed a lawsuit against the state in an effort to block the legislation. Attorney General Merrick Garland previously called the measure “unconstitutional.”