Judges question Texas ban on abortion

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Judges question Texas ban on abortion

In the US state of Texas, almost all abortions have been banned since September. Now the Supreme Court is dealing with the so-called heartbeat law. At a hearing, the majority of constitutional judges let it be known that they could vote against the law.

The US Supreme Court has held a hearing on the extensive ban on abortion in the state of Texas. A majority of the constitutional judges indicated that they could block the controversial “heartbeat law”.

The well-known US lawyer Neal Katyal tweeted that six of the nine judges were skeptical about a provision in the Texan law, according to which private citizens and not the authorities should enforce the strict abortion law. A decision by the Supreme Court can now be made at any time.

The strictest abortion law in the United States came into effect on September 1 in conservative Texas. It prohibits abortions from the point at which the heartbeat of the fetus can be determined, i.e. from around the sixth week of pregnancy. Many women do not even know at this point that they are pregnant. Even in the case of rape or incest, the law does not provide for any exceptions.

There is also outrage that it is not the Texan authorities that are supposed to enforce the new regulations, but private individuals. Citizens are encouraged to sue people they suspect of helping women with an abortion after the sixth week. In addition to abortion clinics and their employees, this could also affect relatives or a taxi driver who has brought a pregnant woman to the clinic. Plaintiffs will receive $ 10,000 if convicted.

Even conservative constitutional judges harbor doubts

For procedural reasons, this ruling makes it difficult to take the law to court in federal courts, even though the Supreme Court’s 1973 landmark ruling enshrined women’s right to abortion. That is exactly why Texas chose this mechanism, in which the Texas authorities are not involved and therefore cannot be sued. The administration of US President Joe Biden and abortion providers eventually went to the Supreme Court.

Four constitutional judges – the three liberal judges on the Supreme Court and the conservative court president John Roberts – had wanted to stop the Texan law before it came into force. They were subject to the other five judges in a narrow decision. Now, with Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett, two conservative lawyers appointed by former President Donald Trump have made it clear that they consider Texan law to be inadmissible.

At the hearing, Kavanaugh asked about the “implications for other fundamental rights” should other states rely on a mechanism like Texas. As an example, he cited the constitutional amendment to gun ownership: “Could anyone who sells an AR-15 (assault rifle) be sued for a million dollars by a citizen?”

In 1973 the Supreme Court anchored the right of women to an abortion in its landmark ruling “Roe v. Wade” and confirmed this in a further landmark ruling in 1992. As a guideline, abortions are generally allowed until the fetus is viable outside the womb. This is the case after about 22 to 24 weeks of pregnancy.

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Judges question Texas ban on abortion

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