In a stunning decision on Dec. 10, the United States Supreme Court allowed the dangerous Texas abortion ban, S.B. 8, to remain in effect, and once again abandoned the people of Texas.
The Supreme Court’s actions foreclosed the most promising avenues to block the Texas ban, which prohibits abortions from approximately six weeks of pregnancy — before many people know they are pregnant.
"This is a dark day for abortion patients and for physicians and providers,” said Marc Hearron, an attorney for the Center for Reproductive Rights who argued health-care providers’ case before the Supreme Court. “It's also a dark day for anyone who cares about constitutional rights.”
In an impassioned dissent, Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote that the Supreme Court had "betray[ed] not only the citizens of Texas, but also our constitutional system of government.” She added that “the Court should have put an end to this madness months ago, before S.B. 8 first went into effect. It failed to do so then, and it fails again today."
Chaos and Harm to Texans
While the court didn’t put a complete end to the providers’ legal challenge, its ruling closed off the most promising ways to end Texas’s blatant denial of the constitutional right to abortion, making the court complicit in widespread harm to Texans. The court’s opinion also gave the green light for other states to circumvent the Constitution through copycat laws.
Planned Parenthood Will Continue to Stand by Patients
We’ll continue to fight against this law with our partners, but for more than 100 days, we’ve seen and heard the heartbreaking stories of chaos and confusion coming out of Texas: people who are being forced to remain pregnant against their will or travel hundreds — and even thousands — of miles outside of their home state of Texas to get an abortion. Now, the chaos will continue.
Even before Texas’s abortion ban took effect, a host of medically unnecessary abortion restrictions enacted by the state legislature over the past decade had transformed access to abortion into a right in name only for far too many Texans. And with S.B.4 — which bans medication abortion in Texas starting at seven weeks of pregnancy — newly in effect, access will be pushed further out of reach even if the six-week ban were somehow blocked.
Texas Could Be Just the Beginning
On Dec. 1, the Supreme Court heard arguments in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization — a challenge to a Mississippi law that bans abortion at 15 weeks of pregnancy and could unravel the protections guaranteed by Roe v. Wade. Should that happen, the last 100 days in Texas would be a prologue to the devastation we could see in the 26 states that could move to ban abortion — leaving millions more people in a growing abortion desert, mostly across the South and Midwest.
Is Abortion Legal in My State? And What Happens if Roe v. Wade is Overturned?Find Out
There’s no “middle ground” for the Supreme Court to take. If the justices allow Mississippi’s ban to stand, they’ll erase nearly 50 years of precedent — and put abortion access at risk across the country.
We can’t be complacent while abortion access hangs on by a thread. We need the Senate to take up and pass the Women’s Health Protection Act as soon as possible — and for all lawmakers at all levels of government to work to ensure everyone can make their own health care decisions without political interference. We have no more time to waste.