(C) Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A U.S. Capitol Police Officer walks with a dog near the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, U.S., September 1, 2021. REUTERS/Tom Brenner/File Photo
By Andrew Chung
(Reuters) -Abortion providers in Texas on Thursday asked the U.S. Supreme Court to intervene on an urgent basis in their challenge to a state law imposing a near-total ban on abortion.
The providers asked the justices to hear their case before lower courts have finished ruling on the dispute because of the “great harm the ban is causing.” The Supreme Court, which has a 6-3 conservative majority, this month refused to block the law, which bans abortion after six weeks of pregnancy.
The Texas law is unusual in that it gives private citizens the power to enforce it by enabling them to sue anyone who assists a woman in getting an abortion past the six-week cutoff. That feature has helped shield the law from being immediately blocked as it made it more difficult to directly sue the government.
In their petition to the Supreme Court, the abortion providers including Whole Woman’s Health and other advocacy groups said that justices should decide if the state can “insulate” its law from federal court review by delegating its enforcement to the general public.
The providers said that the ban has eliminated the vast majority of abortions in the state given the threat of “ruinous liability,” causing Texans to have to travel hundreds of miles (km) to other states, causing backlogs there. “Texans are in crisis,” they said in a legal filing.
Democratic President Joe Biden’s administration on Sept 9 sued Texas, seeking to block enforcement of the Republican-backed law, as his fellow Democrats fear the right to abortion established in 1973 may be at risk.
Abortion providers ask U.S. Supreme Court to intervene in challenge to Texas law
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