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The Supreme Court will hear arguments next month in a case involving a Texas law banning abortions once a fetal heartbeat is detected, fast-tracking a thorny legal matter ahead of a separate case that could result in the overturn of the court’s landmark Roe v. Wade decision.
Last week, a divided federal appeals panel rejected the Justice Department’s attempt to block the law from staying in effect while legal challenges make their way through the court system.
The nine Supreme Court justices will consider the same issue Nov. 1, as well as whether the Biden administration and abortion providers even have standing to challenge the law in federal court.
The law, known as Senate Bill 8 or SB 8, went into effect in early September after the Supreme Court declined an emergency appeal filed by abortion providers. The law has remained in place since except for a brief window earlier this month when it was blocked by a lower court judge.
The law prohibits abortions once medical professionals can detect cardiac activity — which usually happens at around six weeks, before some women know they’re pregnant. No exceptions are made in cases of rape or incest, but one is provided in the event of a “serious medical emergency” in which the doctor must prove the woman could die or face serious bodily harm if the abortion isn’t carried out.
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