The Supreme Court of Texas voted unanimously on Friday to strike down a challenge to Senate Bill 8, dealing a blow to pro-abortion advocates. As a result, the "Heartbeat Act" will remain Texas law for the foreseeable future.
The court ruling said,"Texas law does not grant the state-agency executives named as defendants in this case any authority to enforce the Act’s requirements, either directly or indirectly."
The ruling continued that "Senate Bill 8 provides that its requirements may be enforced by a private civil action, that no state official may bring or participate as a party in any such action, that such an action is the exclusive means to enforce the requirements, and that these restrictions apply notwithstanding any other law."
Additionally, the court added that "Based on these provisions, we conclude that Texas law does not grant the state-agency executives named as defendants in this case any authority to enforce the Act’s requirements, either directly or indirectly."
The Heartbeat Act, part of the Texas Health and safety code 117.201-212, captured the nation’s attention in September of last year when its implementation banned abortions in the state after six weeks—approximately the stage in development at which a heartbeat can be detected in the womb.
Since then, pro-abortion groups have attempted to dislodge the legislation via a legal challenge against the state of Texas, but have run into a legal roadblock.
According to ABC 8, SB 8 is unique because it allows "...private citizens to file civil lawsuits against any party they believe to be helping someone get an illegal abortion and be awarded up to $10,000." Section 171.208 of the bill states: "Any person, other than an officer or employee of a state or local governmental entity in this state, may bring a civil action against any person who: performs or induces an abortion in violation of this subchapter…"
Kimberlyn Schwartz, communications director for Texas Right to Life, told the outlet that this legal maneuver was at the center of what made the Heartbeat Act possible. "We looked at other states that were passing heartbeat policies, and we knew that the abortion industry’s typical playbook is to sue the government, which is going to be the actor enforcing a typical law."
Friday's decision signals that the federal challenge to SB 8 will likely be dismissed and that other states can pass similar legislation. Oklahoma is one of said states already in the process of passing legislation similar to the Texas bill.
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