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A sign reading "Bans off our bodies" at a pro-choice rally

Participants hold signs during a "Hold The Line For Abortion Justice" rally at the U.S. Supreme Court on December 1, 2021 in Washington, D.C. (Photo: Leigh Vogel/Getty Images for Women's March Inc)

'This Is Horrific': US Supreme Court Keeps 6-Week Abortion Ban in Place

"The Supreme Court has no value of our bodies, lives, and futures," said one advocacy group. "We need to liberate abortion."

Julia Conley

This is a developing story and may be updated.

Reproductive rights advocates on Friday expressed outrage after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Texas' six-week abortion ban can remain in effect—a ruling that will continue to force Texans to travel out of state to obtain care at clinics which have reported surging demand, or to continue their unwanted pregnancies.

"The Supreme Court has no value of our bodies, lives, and futures," tweeted Physicians for Reproductive Health, a national advocacy group. "We need to liberate abortion."

The group repeated calls made in recent months for the passage of the Women's Health Protection Act (WHPA), which would ensure people in every state in the U.S. have the right to obtain abortion care regardless of whether the high court overturns Roe v. Wade—as it's being asked to do by Mississippi officials in a case regarding the state's 15-week forced-pregnancy law.

The Supreme Court justices ruled 5-4 in favor of allowing the Texas law to stand for the time being; a federal court is expected to be asked to block the law again.

The court also ruled 8-1 that abortion providers can proceed with their lawsuit challenging the law, known as Senate Bill 8, which deputizes ordinary citizens who can win at least $10,000 in court after suing anyone who has "aided or abetted" a patient who obtains an abortion after six weeks of pregnancy.

"S.B. 8 has caused untold harm—forcing those who can afford it to travel out of state for the care they need, and those who can’t to remain pregnant against their will," said NARAL Pro-Choice America. "As it stands, S.B. 8 makes accessing abortion care in Texas nearly impossible. And the Supreme Court should have blocked it."

In her dissent joined in part by the other two liberal judges on the court, Justice Sonia Sotomayor said the court "should have put an end to this madness months ago," instead of allowing the law to go into effect in September.

Sotomayor dissented "from the court's dangerous departure from its precedents, which establish that federal courts can and should issue relief when a state enacts a law that chills the exercise of a constitutional right."

The court's ruling "betrays not only the citizens of Texas, but also our constitutional system of government," the justice wrote.

Stand Up America, which has advocated for Supreme Court expansion, said the right wing-dominated court's continued attacks on reproductive rights make the case for adding seats to the court via the Judiciary Act.

"The conservative supermajority of the Supreme Court demonstrated once again today that they are nothing more than right-wing political operatives appointed to the bench to do one thing: roll back fundamental rights long-guaranteed by our Constitution and a Supreme Court that once endeavored to uphold them," said Christina Harvey, executive director of the group.

"Today's decision made clear the need for Congress and President Biden to act on Supreme Court expansion—for the sake of rebalancing the ideological scale of the Court and protecting our fundamental rights," she added.

Progressive lawmakers added their voices to the call for the passage of the House-approved WHPA—and the elimination of the legislative filibuster to allow it to pass in the Senate.

"Texans have been living the back and forth of this case for months. It doesn't have to be this way," tweeted the Congressional Progressive Caucus. "Congress can ensure that every American, no matter where they live, has access to abortion."

"It's the filibuster or reproductive freedom," the caucus added.

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