The US Supreme Court will allow Texas to maintain a near-total ban on abortions, but will address the case next month in a rare expedited trial.
The law, known as SB8, gives anyone the right to sue doctors who have abortions in the past six weeks, before most women know they are pregnant.
The Supreme Court has said it will focus on how the law was drafted and whether it can be legally challenged.
It is considered extraordinarily rare for the US high court to expedite cases.
Lower courts have yet to deliver final rulings on the so-called Texas Heartbeat Act.
The controversial law – which makes an exception for a documented medical emergency but not for cases of rape or incest – bans abortion after what some call a fetal heartbeat.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists states that at six weeks a fetus has not yet developed a heartbeat, but rather an “electrically induced flicker” of tissue that will become the heart.
Texas law is enforced by giving any individual – from Texas or elsewhere – the right to sue doctors who perform an abortion beyond the six-week mark. However, it does not allow you to sue women who get the procedure.
The Biden administration has previously said it will ask the court to block the law. Since the 1973 Supreme Court’s historic Roe v Wade case, US women have been entitled to abortion until a fetus is able to survive outside the womb, usually between 22 and 24 weeks of pregnancy.
The United States is one of seven out of 198 countries to allow elective abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy, according to the Washington Post.
Texas state attorneys asked the court judges to consider quashing the historic Roe decision, as well as a separate case affirming the constitutional right to abortion. The court did not grant this request.
Oral defense of the case has been set for November 1. The Supreme Court has said it will wait for such arguments to take place before taking any action.
In a written dissent, Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor said the accelerated timeframe will offer “cold comfort” to women in Texas hoping for abortion treatment.
She was the only one of the nine Supreme Court justices to support the short-term blockade of the law.
“Women seeking abortion treatment in Texas are entitled to relief from this court now,” she wrote. “Due to the court’s inability to act today, that relief, if it comes, will be too late for many.”
The law went into effect in Texas on September 1.
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Abortion providers and opponents of the law had asked for it to be lifted until the Supreme Court considered the case.
Whole Woman’s Health, which runs four clinics in Texas, tweeted that “legal limbo is excruciating for both patients and our clinic staff.”
Experts believe the oral arguments can provide a glimpse into how the Supreme Court will deal with other abortion cases.
In December, the Supreme Court is expected to review a separate case involving a Mississippi law banning abortion after 15 weeks.
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