The Texas Supreme Court ruled against abortion providers on Friday (March 11), effectively ending clinics’ last hope for challenging the state’s controversial six-week abortion ban.
In a unanimous 23-page ruling, the court said state licensing officials do not have the authority to enforce the ban, meaning they cannot be named as defendants in federal court over the law. Until now, providers were hoping to proceed with their lawsuit against state officials, which was their final legal avenue to fight the ban. However, Friday’s ruling means this is no longer possible and proceedings will now go back to the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals where the lawsuit will likely be dismissed.
“We are in a moment of crisis not only for reproductive rights but for our justice system and the rule of law. With this ruling, the sliver of this case that we were left with is gone,” President and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights Nancy Northup said. “An unconstitutional ban on abortion after six weeks continues unchecked in the state of Texas. The courts have allowed Texas to nullify a constitutional right.”
“There is nothing left, this case is effectively over with respect to our challenge to the abortion ban,” Marc Hearron, an attorney for the Center for Reproductive Rights, added.
As reported by REVOLT, the restrictive law bans abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected, which is usually around six weeks into a pregnancy, before many women know they are pregnant. The law, which includes no exceptions for cases of rape or incest, also allows private citizens to sue providers and others who help perform an abortion in violation of the ban.
After Friday’s ruling, Texas abortion providers said they will not drop their lawsuit, but they now expect it will be thrown out in the coming weeks or months.