Very restrictive Texas abortion law remains in effect, but courts allowed to intervene

The United States Supreme Court, firmly anchored in conservatism, on Friday authorized federal courts to intervene against a very restrictive Texas law on abortion, without going as far as

This half-hearted decision was hailed by abortion opponents who were delighted that the law remains in force. The defenders of the right of women to terminate their pregnancy have shown their confidence to ultimately obtain its blocking.

Texas, a large conservative state, has banned its inhabitants from aborting since September 1 once the embryo’s heartbeat is noticeable, i.e. after six weeks of pregnancy, even in case of incest or rape.

The federal courts have in the past invalidated around ten comparable laws because they violated the jurisprudence of the Supreme Court: the latter recognized in 1973, and reaffirmed in 1992, the right of American women to have an abortion as long as the fetus is not viable, either towards 22 to 22 weeks of pregnancy.

But Texas has devised an exceptional device which has hitherto complicated the intervention of federal justice: its law entrusts citizens “exclusively” with the task of enforcing this prohibition, in encouraging them to take civil action against people and organizations that help women rape him.

Seized urgently at the time of the entry into force of the text, the Supreme Court, which has six conservative magistrates out of nine, took refuge behind these “new questions of procedure” to refuse to ‘to intervene.

His inaction, seen as a sign of the influence of the three judges appointed by Donald Trump, had been strongly criticized on the left, Democratic President Joe Biden lambasting a decision which “insults the State of right “.

-” Madness “-

The legal battle then intensified, forcing the Court to take full charge of the case. During a hearing on November 1, a majority of its judges had displayed their skepticism about the mechanism of the law.

Abortion opponents in the United States Supreme Court in Washington on November 1 2021 (AFP – MANDEL NGAN) Finally, “eight members of the Court agree to say “that the principle which protects the sovereignty of 50 States,” does not prevent prosecution in federal courts “, according to their ruling which identifies a handful of officials who may be the target of legal action.

Only the conservative judge Clarence Thomas did not associate himself with this judgment, which deals only with technical questions and does not at any time mention the right to abortion.

In a separate text, the Chief of the Court John Roberts and the three progressive magistrates wanted the courts to quickly block the law “unconstitutional”, “given its sinister and lingering effects”

For more than three months, “pregnant women in Texas have been denied access to abortion in their own state after six weeks of pregnancy. Some have exercised their rights by traveling to neighboring states , but many do not have the means “, added the progressive judge Sonia Sotomayor.

” The Court should have put an end to this madness several months ago “, he said. she continued. “It was wrong then and it is still wrong today”, by leaving it in force.

– “We fight” –

“Once again, the Supreme Court has abdicated its duty to protect the Constitution by allowing Texas’ law, the most radical and unprecedented in the country, to remain in force,” denounced the feminist organization Women’s March.

But “we are not going to stop fighting,” responded on Twitter the organization Whole Woman’s health, which operates four clinics in Texas and takes legal action against the law. “We have already won cases that seemed impossible and we know that we will do it again.”

In the meantime, the opponents of the right to abortion were delighted to have gained time. “We are pleased that the Texas heartbeat law remains in effect and saves the lives of unborn babies,” said Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the Susan B. Anthony List group.

“And we look forward to the court ruling” on a Mississippi law, which prohibits abortions from 12 weeks pregnant, she added.

At a hearing on December 1, conservative high court justices appeared willing to take advantage of this file to restrict the right to abortion, or even to give back their total freedom to the States in this matter.