A protester holds up an abortion flag outside the U.S. Supreme Court while judges on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., on Dec.
Tom Brenner | Reuters
A group of abortion providers and advocates on Thursday called on the Supreme Court to quickly review their challenge to a very restrictive abortion law in Texas that bans most abortions after just six weeks.
This law, which also allows private individuals to file lawsuits against anyone who “helps or assists” with an abortion, came into force on September 1st.
In a 5-4 ruling that day, the conservative Supreme Court rejected an urgency motion to freeze the law that focused on procedural issues without assessing the law’s constitutionality.
According to reports, patients in Texas are now fleeing to other states for procedures – despite advocates finding that many women lack the means to bypass the new restrictions.
Rather than trying again to temporarily block Texas law, Thursday’s petition called on the Supreme Court to grant a motion to review their case. This process, known as the writ of certiorari, is generally filed after a decision is made in a lower court.
But abortion law advocates in their latest attempt called on the Supreme Court to swiftly open the case instead of waiting for the final verdict of an appeals court where they say “the letter is on the wall” even though the matter is still pending.
“Texans are now in crisis,” they wrote in the petition. “Given the threat of unlimited public lawsuits and the prospect of ruinous liability if they break the ban, abortion providers are forced to abide by it.”
The law forces many pregnant women to travel hundreds of miles to neighboring states, where providers are grappling with spikes in patients and weeks of arrears, the petition said. Many others may not be able to take this hike if they don’t have the money, time, or opportunity to put their commitments on hold, or if they fear retaliation from their partners or families, the petition says .
“All of these people must unsubscribe or find ways to have an abortion without medical assistance, as reportedly more Texans are now doing,” the petition said.
The attorneys admitted that the Supreme Court’s shadow action ruling did not prevent them from filing the law in state courts. They argued, however, that the few cases pending there “could take months, if not years, to go through the state judicial system before they could find relief nationwide.”
“The court should act now to resolve the issue swiftly, with the benefit of information and reasoning that was impossible when the petitioners made their urgent motion,” the petition says.