The Supreme Court ruled Friday that a suit brought by abortion providers challenging a Texas law that bans nearly all abortions in the Lone Star State once a fetal heartbeat is detected can move forward — but the controversial legislation can remain in effect.
The opinion, authored by Justice Neil Gorsuch, does not rule on the constitutionality of the law itself, but gives abortion clinics a green light to challenge it in the lower courts, granting advocates a minor victory.
In arguments last month, the Supreme Court signaled it would permit a lower court challenge, as the two most recent appointees scrutinized the law’s structure.
The Texas Heartbeat Act, signed by Gov. Greg Abbott in May, has been in effect since Sept. 1. The bill, also known as SB8, does not allow for exceptions for rape or incest but it does for medical emergencies.
In September, the Supreme Court declined to block the law from going into effect in response to an 11th-hour challenge. In October, a federal appeals court rejected the Biden administration’s attempt to stop Texas from enforcing the state’s heartbeat law — leaving the measure in place while the courts decide its ultimate fate.