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Abortion rights advocates demonstrate in front of the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., on December 1, 2021. (Photo: Yasin Ozturk/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

'Moment of Crisis': Texas Supreme Court Ends Hope for Overturning Abortion Ban

"With this ruling, the sliver of this case that we were left with is gone," said the head of the Center for Reproductive Rights.

Jessica Corbett

While vowing to keep up the fight, reproductive rights advocates responded with alarm and despair on Friday after the Texas Supreme Court ruled that what was "once the most promising lawsuit" against the state's six-week abortion ban cannot proceed against the only remaining defendants.

"To everyone in a state where your rights are at risk: You deserve so much better."

The ruling in Whole Woman's Health v. Jackson—which comes after the U.S. Supreme Court dismissed most of the case in December—means Texas' Senate Bill 8 "will likely remain in effect for the foreseeable future," warned the Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR).

"We are in a moment of crisis not only for reproductive rights but for our justice system and the rule of law," declared CRR president and CEO Nancy Northup, whose group was among those representing the plaintiffs. "With this ruling, the sliver of this case that we were left with is gone."

S.B. 8, and copycat bills that have popped up in other GOP-controlled states, bans abortion after six weeks—before many people know they are pregnant—without exceptions for rape or incest. It also empowers anti-choice vigilantes to enforce the law with the allure of a $10,000 bounty.

After the U.S. Supreme Court's decision, the only part of the case that moved forward was plaintiffs' attempt to stop the Texas Medical Board and other state licensing officials from disciplining providers who violated the abortion ban. However, the Republican-controlled state court ended that effort Friday.

"This is another devastating injustice, and people will continue to be denied the basic human dignity of being able to control their own body," said Julia Kaye, staff attorney at the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project, which also represented the plaintiffs.

"Some have been able to overcome this cruel law through the extraordinary support of abortion funds and the reproductive rights and justice movement to get abortion care very early in Texas or travel out of state," she noted. "But too many others have been denied abortion care altogether, and the brunt of this horrific law has fallen on the most marginalized people, including people of color and people with the fewest resources."

Amy Hagstrom Miller, president and CEO of the plaintiffs Whole Woman's Health and Whole Woman's Health Alliance, explained that while the clinics in Texas have remained open to offer what limited care they can still provide, "the situation is becoming increasingly dire, and now neighboring states—where we have been sending patients—are about to pass similar bans."

"Where will Texans go then?" she asked. "The more states that pass these bans, the harder it will be for anyone in this region to get abortion care. Texans deserve better."

Warning that "the public cannot stand by while extremist politicians and cowardly courts strip away our civil rights," Kaye promised that opponents of S.B. 8 and similar legislation "won't stop fighting and we will do everything we can to stem the suffering that has resulted from this unprecedented crisis."

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