(CNN) A controversial Texas law that bars abortions at six weeks went into effect early Wednesday morning after the Supreme Court and a federal appeals court failed to rule on pending emergency requests brought by abortion providers.
The lack of judicial intervention means that the law — which is one of the strictest in the nation and bans abortion before many people know they are pregnant — goes into force absent further court intervention.
The law allows private citizens to bring civil suits against anyone who assists a pregnant person seeking an abortion in violation of the ban.
No other six-week ban has been allowed to go into effect — even briefly.
CNN Supreme Court analyst and University of Texas Law School professor Steve Vladeck said:
“What ultimately happens to this law remains to be seen, but now through their inaction the justices have let the tightest abortion restriction since Roe v. Wade be enforced for at least some period of time.”
The case comes as the justices are poised in the upcoming term to rule on the constitutionality of a Mississippi law that bars abortion at 15 weeks.
Under the Texas law, abortion is prohibited when a fetal heartbeat is detected, which is often before a woman knows she is pregnant. There is no exception for rape or incest, although there is an exemption for “medical emergencies.”
Abortion providers asked the justices to block the ban while legal challenges played out.
They argued that if it were allowed to go into effect it would “immediately and catastrophically reduce abortion access in Texas,” ultimately forcing many abortion clinics to close.
They argued if the law were allowed to take effect it would have the impact of “barring care for at least 85% of Texas abortion patients” and would mean that lawsuits could be filed against a broad range of people including a person who drives their friend to obtain an abortion … READ MORE.