Senate bill 8 reaches the Supreme Court After Stricter Abortion Laws in Texas


Photo by Photo courtesy of Alamy Stock Photo

People gather outside the Supreme Court protesting stricter abortion laws in Texas

Bela De Jesus and Avery Martin

  When the news of Texas’s new abortion law was released, many questioned the legality of the law. The 1973 Roe vs. Wade decision stated that barring women from having abortions was unconstitutional. However, Texas officials have found a loophole to further anti abortion agendas, essentiallly establishing a whistle blower system among citizens and abortion clinics. 

    When the Justice Department sued the state of Texas, the bill was brought to the attention of the Supreme Court, and the law was not banned in a 4 to 5 vote. Once two other cases had been brought up again in relation to the bill, the Supreme Court decided to reevaluate the bill again. However, some have argued that federal judges hold no authority to block a lawsuit against state court judges. This is yet another example of the age-old argument over state vs. federal power.

    Political disagreements about laws of abortion are a factor under the larger umbrella of healthcare, and the due process clause stating that the goverment can’t deprive someone of life, liberty, or property. As a health professional and educator at LFA, Jennifer Madeley discussed the conversation over abortion laws is not one where you can solely address abortion as other factors such as poverty, acessible healthcare, dosmetic violence, racism, sex education, and ectera all affect the decisions themselves. Madeley also mentioned sexual education in America, and how “if we did a better job educating our young people, access to healthcare, access to contraceptives, this would be a different conversation”. 

     So, it all begs the question if states wish to ban or lower abortion rates, are there things they could be doing that don’t involve banning it as the first step? Are there ways these states can then help women with unwanted pregnancies through healthcare and economic policies? 

    The Senate Bill 8 (or SB8) was put in place on September 1st, 2021. The law stipulates that abortion is outlawed for any person who has been pregnant for more than 6 weeks, with no exceptions for rape or incest. It is widely known as the Heartbeat Bill, as 6 weeks is around the time in which cardiac activity can be detected. The bill states that anyone suspected of aiding an abortion can be sued for at least 10,000 dollars. This means anyone, even a complete stranger from a different state, can sue. People could be sued for completing the abortion procedure, being an Uber driver that drove a person to a clinic, supporting a family member during the procedure, and much more. This creates a vigilante system, essentially putting the policing on American citizens.

     SB8 is currently being litigated in the Supreme Court, and a heated conversation was sparked. With a majority conservative Supreme Court, the assumption is that the law would be kept. However, both Justice Kavanaugh and Justice Coney-Barrett appear to be on the fence. Justice Kavanaugh is looking at the case through the states rights issue, and has been quoted stating “Say everyone who sells an AR-15 is liable for a million dollars to any citizen … Would that kind of law be exempt from pre-enforcement review in federal court?” Justice Coney-Barrett is looking at the legal standing of the law, and may vote to ban it due to its lack of a legal argument. As of now, there is no clear conclusion of how the Court will vote. 

     Once other states witnessed the legal loopholes that Texas had established, some states took the opportunity to make abortion laws stricter – such as “the heartbeat law” in Mississippi, Georgia, Kentucky, and Ohio – attemptedto follow in Texas’s footsteps. For one, the legalities of Mississippi’s ban on abortions after 15 weeks of pregnacy will be argued in the Supreme Court on December 1st.  

     So what does this say about the United States, and how will this have an impact? When asked these questions, Dr. Avril Pathak, Government and Politics teacher, stated that, “This case is just a broad reflection of a critique of the dominance of the sex-gender system of this country”. Pathak emphasized that abortion has always been a contentious topic, as it is not just about abortion. It also showcases the imbalance of power amongst genders and the value society places upon the ‘nuclear family’. This law shows that the United States is constantly at war over abortion, and in turn, at war over society as a whole.