The decision, which was 8-1, did not address whether or not the ban is unconstitutional. That issue will likely be addressed in the lawsuit, Whole Woman’s Health vs. Jackson, which will now proceed in a lower federal court.
In a statement, Amy Hagstrom Miller, president and CEO of Whole Woman’s Health and Whole Woman’s Health Alliance, said that the ruling offered “hope for an end to this horrific abortion ban.”
A second lawsuit challenging the law filed by the Biden Administration was denied by the Court.
In her opinion, Justice J. Sotomayor stated, “The Court should have put an end to this madness months ago, before [the law] S.B. 8 first went into effect. It failed to do so then, and it fails again today.”
The law, which went into effect this September, bans abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected, which is generally around six weeks into the pregnancy, before some women even know they’re pregnant. The law allows exceptions for medical emergencies, but not for rape or incest.
Rather than being enforced by state officials, the law empowers private citizens to enforce it by suing anyone who “aids or abets” an abortion after six weeks.
On Thursday (Dec. 9), a Texas state court judge ruled that the law’s enforcement by private citizens is unconstitutional. However, they allowed the law to remain in effect.
The Supreme Court is also considering an abortions rights case in Mississippi, but that decision is not expected until the spring.