A coalition of Texas abortion providers went back to the Supreme Court Thursday, asking the justices to expedite a review of the state law that bars abortions after six weeks.
The law has been in effect for 23 days, but the federal appeals court hearing the challenge has only set a tentative hearing schedule for December. The providers are asking the justices to — in effect — step in and decide a key issue in the case now, instead of waiting for a federal appeals court to rule on the issue.
In the new brief, the providers say the law is written in a way that makes it almost impossible to challenge because it bars Texas officials from enforcing it and instead allows private individuals to bring suits against anyone who may assist in helping a person obtain an abortion performed after six weeks. The clinics are asking the Supreme Court to decide “whether a State can insulate from federal-court review a law that prohibits the exercise of a constitutional right by delegating to the general public the authority to enforce that prohibition through civil actions.”
Under normal circumstances the Supreme Court does not like to rule on an issue until the normal appeals process has played out.
“We’re asking the Supreme Court for this expedited appeal because the Fifth Circuit has done nothing to change the dire circumstances on the ground in Texas,” said Nancy Northup of the Center for Reproductive Rights. “We’re doing everything we can to block this ban and restore abortion access in Texas.”
In making the unusual request, the clinics noted that providers in neighboring states have reported increases of patients traveling across state lines and other states have begun to push copy cat laws.
The clinics had previously asked the justices to block the law before it went into effect, but the high court declined to do so on September 1.
This story is breaking and will be updated.
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