December 10, 2021 – In a long-awaited decision, the US Supreme Court today ruled that the controversial Texas abortion a law that restricts proceedings to women pregnant in 6 weeks or less it can continue to be enforced, but state and federal courts are allowed to debate whether it violates the Constitution.
As anti-abortion organizations celebrate and abortion rights groups discuss what the decision could mean for women not just in Texas but across the U.S., there is another, bigger implication.
Texas law has caused a lot of controversy, in part because it has had an unusual approach. Empowering basically anyone across the nation to file a lawsuit against a lone star woman seeking outlaw proceedings, or anyone assisting her – including health professionals – this opens up the potential for similar legal challenges to other Supreme Marriage, Weapons and Other Judgments rights.
The the court rejected the efforts on behalf of abortion providers and the federal government to repeal the law, but said lower courts should determine the final fate of the law.
The verdict allows supporters of the right to abortion a lawsuit in state court, where a Texas judge on Thursday declared the law unconstitutional. However, he stopped issuing the ban. Opponents of the right to abortion have promised to appeal the verdict of District Judge David Peeples.
The law came into force on September 1, 2021. The day before the Supreme Court it didn’t work to maintain the law as required by abortion rights organizations. As a result, many women in Texas who sought treatment after 6 weeks traveled to nearby states. On 25 October, the Court agreed to hear a challenging the law by the Biden administration.
Today’s decision by the Supreme Court to uphold Texas law runs counter to the general consensus of many legal observers that judges receptive to blocking the law, based on questions and concerns raised by the judges during the oral hearing on 1 November 2021.
A separate legal challenge to the right to abortion includes the Mississippi Act, which prohibits proceedings from the 15th week of pregnancy. Judges of the Supreme Court scheduled oral hearings in that case for December 1, and the decision in that case is expected to be made in June 2022.
The number of abortions continues to decline
The number and rate of abortions increased after Roe v. Wade ruled in 1973, remained relatively stable during the 1980s, and then began to decline. “This decline has been going on for a long time,” said Amanda Jean Stevenson, PhD, an assistant professor of sociology at the University of Colorado Boulder during a recent press briefing sponsored by SciLine and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
“One important thing is that this decline is unlikely to be driven by abortion restrictions until 2017,” she added.
Improvements in contraceptive capabilities are one of the reasons why scientists believe the rate is declining, Stevenson said. Also, rates decreased the most among teenagers, reflecting the overall decline in teenage pregnancies at the same time.
“There are a lot of myths about abortion and that’s why we’re here today,” said Sarah Ward Prager, MD, a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Washington in Seattle. For example, “most people find abortion to be quite unsafe.”
However, she stressed: “There are no long-term health risks of miscarriage. It is not linked to future risks of infertility or ectopic pregnancy, miscarriage, birth defects or premature births.” Allegations linking abortion to a higher risk of breast cancer, depression, anxiety or suicide are untrue, Prager said.
The long-term risks to mental health are not greater than in women who carry a pregnancy to term, she said.
The journalist asked about opponents who claim that science shows the harmful effects of abortion, such as post-traumatic stress disorder or fetal pain.
“There is no scientific evidence to suggest that abortion causes PTSD,” said Dr. Diana Greene Foster, director of research to improve new standards and reproductive health at the University of California, San Francisco. “You can claim that if you’re politically motivated and don’t care about science.”
“And, likewise, people who are familiar with fetal brain development dispute the concept that fetal pain occurs 24 weeks ago,” Greene Foster added.
Another area of confusion is the difference between a “morning after pill” and an abortion pill with medication. The pill for the morning after is considered emergency contraception. “It’s a drug designed to prevent ovulation and thus prevent pregnancy,” said Greene Foster.
In contrast, abortion medication – a combination of mifepristone and misoprostol, also known as the “abortion pill” – is designed to terminate an existing pregnancy for up to 10 weeks.
Transferable and maternal risks
“What people think about abortion is often not the real picture,” Prager said. “Access to safe and legal abortion reduces maternal mortality.”
The risk of death from miscarriage is 0.7 per 100,000 compared to the risk of death from childbirth of 9 per 100,000, and the risk of dying from tonsillectomy is 3 to 6 per 100,000.
Furthermore, we know that people who are disproportionately affected by the restrictions are also those who face higher maternal mortality rates, Prager added. “That risk is higher for some populations. It’s higher for blacks in this country and Native Americans and Alaska Natives.”