Confusion in Texas as ‘Unprecedented’ Abortion Law Takes Effect

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from The New York Times,

The anti-abortion movement in Texas won a major victory Thursday after a novel legal approach to banning abortion was not blocked by the Supreme Court, throwing abortion services across the state into question and prompting some women to leave the state for procedures.

The Supreme Court declined just before midnight on Wednesday to block the law prohibiting abortions after cardiac activity is detected — usually about six weeks of pregnancy. Now the measure, which was signed into law in May, will run its course in the lower courts. Its unique legal structure, though, means it will likely remain in effect for the duration of the legal battle.

The Supreme Court’s vote was 5 to 4, with Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. joining the court’s three liberal members in dissent. The chief justice underscored the tentative nature of the majority’s ruling. “Although the court denies the applicants’ request for emergency relief today,” he wrote, “the court’s order is emphatic in making clear that it cannot be understood as sustaining the constitutionality of the law at issue.”

On Thursday in Texas, that meant a changed landscape for abortion care. Abortion clinics reported dramatic drops in patients on their schedules. And pregnancy crisis centers, where anti-abortion groups offer pregnancy services, reported surges in phone calls and walk-ins. Abortion funds, which help poor women pay for procedures, reported a rise in the numbers of patients seeking treatment out of state.

President Biden directed a gender-focused policy council in the White House and other agencies to “launch of a whole-of-government effort” to respond.

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