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Supreme Court hears arguments in Texas' controversial law that severely limits abortion access

Supreme Court building
Posted at 7:31 AM, Nov 01, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-01 10:44:26-04

The Supreme Court is currently holding a hearing regarding the application of a Texas state law that severely limits a person's access to an abortion in the state.

While the legality of abortion is not at issue during Monday's hearing, the Supreme Court's eventual ruling on the case could have massive implications for abortion access in Texas and how other conservative-leaning states could seek to limit abortions in the future.

At issue Monday is Texas SB8, which was signed into law by Gov. Greg Abbott earlier this year and went into effect on Sept. 1. The law outlaws abortions in the state after a fetal heartbeat is detected — usually at about six weeks, before many women know they are pregnant.

However, the law specifically outlaws the state executive branch from enforcing it. Instead, the law is enforced by private citizens, who can file lawsuits seeking $10,000 in damages from any who aids or abets a person from seeking an illegal abortion.

When the law went into effect earlier this year, it shut down practically all abortion services in the state.

The Department of Justice has asked the Supreme Court to halt the policy while appeals courts weigh its legality. However, lawyers representing the state of Texas say that the Justice Department can't challenge the law because it is not responsible for enforcement.

Monday morning's hearing is expected to last several hours, and a ruling likely won't be made for several weeks or months.