Pro-choice and anti-abortion activists protest alongside each other during a demonstration outside of the Supreme Court on October 04, 2021. WASHINGTON – The Biden administration’s effort to get the Supreme Court to block a Texas ban on abortions after six weeks of pregnancy may be the best shot reproductive rights advocates now have to halt enforcement of the controversial law.
But the high-profile case is just one row in a Rubik’s Cube of lawsuits that may signal where the Supreme Court is heading on the thorny issue of abortion, and whether it will continue to uphold the landmark Roe v. Wade decision that established the right to the procedure.
Texas’ ban has prompted a flurry of overlapping and difficult-to-follow lawsuits in different courts, any one of which may decide its fate. The justices, meanwhile, are also considering challenges to other state abortion laws that could affect the Texas case.
Signed by Republican Gov. Greg Abbott in May, Texas’ law bans abortions when cardiac activity is detected, which can occur at six weeks. The law includes no exception for rape or incest. It is the ban’s unusual enforcement mechanism that has so far confounded courts: Rather than criminalizing the procedure, the law gives private citizens a right to sue abortion providers – and collect damages starting at $10,000.
The Justice Department on Monday appealed a ruling from the New Orleans-based U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit that allowed the Texas law to remain in effect – for now. The Supreme Court hours later asked Texas to respond to that appeal by Thursday, an indication it intends to move quickly to resolve the litigation.
The high court then set the same deadline for a response in another lawsuit challenging the Texas law. That appeal was filed weeks ago by abortion providers in Texas .
Here’s a look at the leading legal battles being fought over Texas’ abortion ban. Justice Department’s appeal
The Biden administration stepped into the fray in early September , suing the State of Texas directly in a way the abortion providers who initially tried to block the law were barred from doing. It is the Justice Department’s suit that has drawn the most attention recently and experts say it may be the most likely vehicle to halt enforcement of the law.