Two months after it went into effect, Texas’ ban on abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected was the subject of three hours of arguments at the Supreme Court of the United States Monday morning. The high court, which had declined to block the law in late August, heard two challenges to the ban, formally known as Senate Bill 8. It is the strictest abortion ban in the U.S.
Meanwhile, the number of legal abortions performed in Texas in September dropped 50% from the same month in 2020, according to data released Friday by a group of researchers at the University of Texas at Austin, the New York Times reported.
On Monday, the court limited discussion to whether the Biden administration, the state of Texas and a number of Texas officials are the proper parties to sue or be sued. Rather than take up the constitutionality of abortion (a case to be heard next month will do that), the justices focused on procedural matters involving S.B. 8.
The law allows ordinary citizens to sue abortion providers rather than empowering state officials to enforce the statute. This is thought to be Texas’ way of preventing federal courts from enjoining the law, a strategy that has worked so far.
USA Today reported that the high court “seemed skeptical of a lawsuit filed by the Biden administration raising questions about whether the United States had been so harmed by the Texas law that it was in a position to sue in the first place.”