For Immediate Release: Friday, December 10, 2021
Washington, DC — Today, the U.S. Supreme Court released decisions in two cases regarding Texas’ blatantly unconstitutional vigilante-enforced ban on abortion (SB 8), Whole Woman’s Health v. Jackson and United States v. Texas. The Court declined to block the law immediately and dismissed the United States v. Texas case. While the Court’s decision will allow the challenge to the law brought by a broad coalition of providers and others to continue in the lower courts in Whole Woman’s Health v. Jackson, SB 8 remains in effect. This draconian ban on abortion has been in effect for more than three months while the Court deliberated these cases. These rulings came after oral arguments were heard on November 1 focusing on the law’s unprecedented vigilante enforcement mechanism and whether the Department of Justice has the authority to bring a challenge to the Texas law. The threats to reproductive freedom continue to loom large as the Supreme Court heard a direct challenge to Roe v. Wade last week.
NARAL Pro-Choice America President Mini Timmaraju released the following statement in response:
“Today’s ruling has allowed Texas’ draconian ban on abortion to remain in place, but the fact of the matter is that it should never have been enacted in the first place. Texas’ vigilante-enforced abortion ban continues to cause immeasurable harm by pushing access to care entirely out of reach for millions of people in the state. This law makes crystal clear that there is no low anti-choice extremists won’t stoop to in order to strip away our reproductive freedom.
Today’s ruling underscores the grim reality that abortion access is under unprecedented attack in our country from state houses all the way to the Supreme Court. Just last week, the Supreme Court heard a case that could end the constitutional right to abortion as we know it. We are in a moment of crisis for reproductive freedom. It is absolutely critical that our leaders in the Senate move swiftly to pass the Women’s Health Protection Act to safeguard the legal right to abortion.”
In September, the Supreme Court refused to block Texas’ SB 8, allowing this blatantly unconstitutional law to go into effect. This ban has effectively shut off access to abortion care in Texas for more than three months and rendered Roe meaningless for tens of millions of Texans. As Justice Sonia Sotomayor noted in her separate opinion, “The Court should have put an end to this madness months ago, before S.B.8 first went into effect.”
For more than three months, Texas’ abortion ban has forced Texans who can afford it to travel hundreds of miles and cross state lines to access abortion care. Those who can’t afford to travel can be forced to carry a pregnancy to term against their will. One in 10 women of reproductive age in the United States live in Texas, and barriers to care disproportionately harm Black, Indigenous, Latinx, and people of color; those working to make ends meet; the LGBTQ+ community; immigrants; young people; those living in rural communities; and people with disabilities.
Texas’ abortion ban is one of more than 100 restrictions on abortion access that have been enacted at the state level in 2021, making it the worst year for abortion rights since Roe was decided. The impact of Texas’ SB 8 has already spread across the country, with anti-choice lawmakers in five states—Alabama, Arkansas, Ohio, Missouri, and Florida—introducing copycat legislation to export the vigilante-enforced ban on abortion to their states and lawmakers in 10 other states signaling their intent to follow suit.
The constitutional right to abortion remains in peril. Last week, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in a separate case that explicitly threatens the constitutional right to abortion—Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. This case, regarding Mississippi’s 15-week abortion ban, directly challenges Roe. Any ruling that upholds Mississippi’s ban will overturn Roe’s core protections and our constitutional right to make decisions about our lives, families, and futures.
Every day without action means that more and more people are being denied their constitutional right to abortion. The Senate must swiftly pass the Women’s Health Protection Act (WHPA) to safeguard the legal right to abortion throughout the United States even if Roe falls. WHPA is the best way to stop states from taking further action to eviscerate abortion access.
For over 50 years, NARAL Pro-Choice America has fought to protect and advance reproductive freedom at the federal and state levels—including access to abortion care, birth control, paid family leave, and protections from pregnancy discrimination—for every body. NARAL is powered by its more than 2.5 million members from every state and congressional district in the country, representing the 8 in 10 Americans who support legal abortion.