Monday, November 1, will be a critically important day in the fight for reproductive rights. Starting at 10 am, the Supreme Court will hold a hearing concerning the draconian Texas abortion law SB8.
SB8 bans abortion care after six weeks of pregnancy, and has caused clinics to shut down across the state. Texas has argued that the law can’t be struck down like restrictive abortion care laws elsewhere because the state does not enforce the law itself. Instead, it delegates enforcement to any private individual who chooses to act as a “bounty hunter,” and can sue in state court anyone who provides or helps someone get abortion care and get large damage awards and attorneys’ fees. The fear of such lawsuits has caused providers to refuse to offer abortion care to thousands of people in Texas.
So far, the courts, including the Supreme Court, have ruled that abortion care providers can’t file a federal lawsuit challenging the law. Even though a district court issued an order to block the law when the Justice Department sued, a right-wing appeals court stopped that order and put the law back into effect.
On Monday, the Court will hold an oral argument where lawyers will argue whether the Justice Department or abortion care providers can sue to immediately stop the law, or whether it stays in effect and can be challenged only by responding to individual “bounty hunter” state lawsuits. If the Court says no to the Justice Department and providers, other states are likely to use this same deceptive tactic to devastate abortion care and other constitutional rights across the country. That’s just one example of why courts matter to all of our rights.
There is no specific schedule for when the Court will rule, but it is widely expected to decide this crucial question soon. The argument can be heard live on the Supreme Court’s website here. PFAW will be providing updates as events happen, so stay tuned with us!