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U.S. Supreme Court hears challenges to Texas near-total abortion ban

FILE PHOTO: The U.S. Supreme Court in Washington By Andrew Chung and Lawrence Hurley

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Supreme Court is set to hear arguments on Monday in challenges by President Joe Biden’s administration and abortion providers to a Texas law that imposes a near-total ban on the procedure and lets private citizens enforce it – a novel design that has shielded it from being blocked by lower courts.

Abortion rights in the United States are hanging in the balance as the nine justices take up the dispute over the Texas law barring abortions after about six weeks of pregnancy before hearing arguments on Dec. 1 https://www.reuters.com/article/legal-us-usa-court-abortion-instant/u-s-supreme-court-takes-up-case-that-could-limit-abortion-rights-idUSKCN2CY1P9 over the legality of a Mississippi measure prohibiting the procedure after 15 weeks of pregnancy.

The Texas dispute reached the Supreme Court with unusual speed. The justices agreed to take up https://www.reuters.com/world/us/us-supreme-court-hear-challenge-texas-abortion-ban-2021-10-22 the matter on Oct. 22, bypassing lower courts that are considering the challenges. The Supreme Court on a 5-4 vote on Sept. 1 declined to halt the law https://www.reuters.com/business/healthcare-pharmaceuticals/texas-six-week-abortion-ban-takes-effect-2021-09-01.

The challenges will determine whether federal courts can hear lawsuits aimed at striking down the Texas law and whether the U.S. government even can sue to try to block it. If the justices keep federal courts out of the process by virtue of the law’s unique design, it could be replicated in other states and curtail abortion access in other parts of the country.

The Texas and Mississippi laws are among a series of Republican-backed abortion restrictions pursued at the state level in recent years. Lower courts blocked the Mississippi law.

Abortion opponents hope the Supreme Court, with its 6-3 conservative majority, will roll back abortion rights or even overturn its 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that recognized a woman’s constitutional right to terminate a pregnancy and legalized the procedure nationwide.

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