The Supreme Court of Texas heard arguments today in abortionists’ challenge to the Texas Heartbeat Act. State judges considered whether government agencies have the authority to enforce the Texas Heartbeat Act under the state Constitution and statutes.
Abortionists originally filed this lawsuit (Whole Woman’s Health v. Jackson) in July 2021, attempting to stop the Texas Heartbeat Act from taking effect in the first place. The case targeted a broad list of defendants, including a Pro-Life citizen, a state judge, a state court clerk, government officials, and a handful of state agencies. The U.S. Supreme Court rejected their attempt to stop the Texas Heartbeat Act from taking effect, and later dismissed several key defendants but allowed the case to continue against only a few state agencies.
Texas’ attorneys asserted in today’s hearing that the Texas Heartbeat Act was specifically written to preclude all government officials (such as the agencies named in abortionists’ lawsuit) from enforcing the law. Thus, the abortion industry’s case is invalid.
However, Whole Woman’s Health argued that there are other state laws outside of the Texas Heartbeat Act that grant general authority to these agencies. They further stated the Texas Medical Board, Texas Board of Nursing, and the Pharmacy Board are told to enforce abortion laws in our Health and Safety Code and told to consider other illegal activities when disciplining medical professionals or renewing their licenses.
Herein lies the abortion industry’s catch-22. Whole Woman’s Health claims the purpose of this lawsuit is to “seek relief” from the government shutting them down if they break the law. However, the State of Texas agrees that state agencies don’t have the authority to enforce the Texas Heartbeat Act. (Recall, only private citizens, not government officials, can hold abortionists accountable.) In court, however, Whole Woman’s Health refused the relief they supposedly sought. They admitted to the court that they flip-flopped on their position because their true motivation for the lawsuit was really to block anyone from filing lawsuits against them, and thus, they want the court to declare the entire Texas Heartbeat Act unconstitutional.
Texas Supreme Court judges have not indicated when they will rule. Texas Right to Life believes that the abortion industry’s case is invalid, and we are confident that the Texas Heartbeat Act will once again prevail against the abortion industry’s attack.
The historic Texas Heartbeat Act has withstood every legal challenge thus far, making our state the first ever to enforce a heartbeat law. The policy protects preborn children who have detectable heartbeats (typically around six weeks of pregnancy) by authorizing private citizens to sue abortionists if they have reason to believe the law was broken. Since September 1, 2021, Texas abortionists have stopped committing abortions after six weeks, meaning the Texas Heartbeat Act has saved an estimated 17,000 lives. March 1 will mark six months since the life-saving law took effect.