The justices voted 5 to 4 not to interfere with an injunction on the so-called Heartbeat Act, which bans all abortions in the state after the fetus’ heartbeat is detected – usually around the six-week mark.
Despite extensive backlash from activists and US president Joe Biden himself, the court said the application from women’s health groups failed to “carry the burden” needed for an injunction.
It added that its decision was “not based on any conclusion about the constitutionality of Texas’ law” and noted the ruling “in no way limits other procedurally proper challenges to the Texas law”.
Activists had pleaded for the Supreme Court to intervene before the abortion bill could be passed into law by passing an emergency appeal, but the justices missed the deadline.
Hours after the new law Senate Bill 8 passed on Wednesday, Biden called the law “extreme” and said it would “significantly impair” women’s healthcare access.
He promised his administration would “protect and defend” the constitutional rights established under the 1973 Roe v Wade law which granted all women the right to have an abortion up until the fetus can survive outside the womb. This landmark legislation is now challenged by Texas’ new law.
White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Biden had long wanted to see the “codification” of Roe v Wade so Congress could vote to make the precedent federal law.
Not everyone on the Supreme Court was happy either.
Justice Sonia Sotomayor took aim at her more conservative colleagues who had voted not to issue an injunction against the Senate Bill 8.
She said the court had “silently acquiesced in a state’s enactment of a law that flouts nearly 50 years of federal precedents”.
Alongside fellow dissenting justices Stepher Breyer and Elena Kagan, she continued: “Presented with an application to enjoy a flagrantly unconstitutional law engineered to prohibit women from exercising their constitutional rights and evade judicial scrutiny, a majority of Justices have opted to bury their heads in the sand.”
Texas’ new abortion law is a major restriction against people with wombs as very few know they are pregnant at this stage.
The Act also incentivises members of the public to sue those they think have helped abort a pregnancy after the six-week mark, by offering a minimum reward of $10,000 (£7,200) if they sue successfully.
This allegedly makes the law difficult to challenge in court as it involves private citizens to enforce it.
Pro-choice organisations such as the Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) had requested the Supreme Court to block the new law.
ACLU said the Texas law will champion “a bounty hunting scheme” with “vigilante lawsuits” to harass those seeking an abortion. It claimed tip lines have been established by anti-abortion groups already.
Abortion rights advocates say people will now be forced to leave the state to get a termination which will put a large financial burden on them. There’s a fear the new law could be mimicked in other states, too.
Governor Greg Abbott also signed a trigger bill in June which would outlaw all abortions in Texas if there was a constitutional amendment which gave states the authority to alter Roe v Wade.