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Supreme Court puts Texas abortion law in place

December 10, 2021 – In a highly anticipated decision, the U.S. Supreme Court today ruled that the controversial Texas abortion law restricting the procedure to women pregnant for 6 weeks or less may continue to be enforced but allowed for state and federal courts to hear challenges or violate the Constitution.

As anti-abortion organizations celebrate and abortion rights groups discuss what the decision could mean for women not only in Texas but across the U.S., there is another, bigger implication.

Texas law has sparked much controversy, in part because it has taken an unusual approach. By authorizing virtually anyone across the country to file a lawsuit against a woman in the only state seeking the out-of-court procedure, or anyone assisting her – including healthcare professionals, it opens up the potential for similar legal challenges for others. Supreme Court rulings on marriages, arms and other rights.

The court denied attempts on behalf of abortion providers and the federal government to reverse the law, but said lower courts should determine the law’s ultimate fate.

The ruling allows supporters of abortion rights to sue in state court, where a Texas judge on Thursday found the law unconstitutional. However, he stopped issuing an order against. Opponents of abortion rights have vowed to appeal to District Judge David Peeples’ ruling.

A timeline on the matter

The law came into force on 1 September 2021. The previous day, the Supreme Court did not act to place a hold on the law as requested by abortion rights organizations. Consequently, many Texas women who sought the procedure after 6 weeks traveled to nearby states. On October 25, the Court agreed to a fight against the law by the Biden administration.

Today’s Supreme Court decision to uphold the Texas law contrasts with a general consensus among many legal observers that the judges were receptive to blocking the law, based on questions and issues raised by the judges during oral arguments on November 1, 2021.

A separate legal challenge for abortion rights involves a Mississippi law that prohibits the procedure that begins at 15 weeks of pregnancy. The Supreme Court judges scheduled oral arguments in that case for December 1, and is expected to issue a ruling in that case in June 2022.

Abortion rates continue to decline

The number and rate of abortions increased after the Roe v. Wade decision increased in 1973, remained relatively stable through 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 media briefing sponsored by SciLine and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

“One important thing is that these declines are unlikely to be driven by abortion restrictions through 2017,” she added.

Improvements in contraceptive options are one of the reasons why scholars believe the rate has slowed, Stevenson said. Also, rates have dropped the most among teens, reflecting an overall decline in teenage pregnancies at the same time.

Common misperceptions

“There are a lot of myths about abortion and that’s why we are here today,” said Sarah Ward Prager, MD, professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Washington in Seattle. For example, “the majority of people consider abortion to be quite unsafe.”

However, she stressed: “There are no long-term health risks of abortion. It is not associated with the future risk of infertility or ectopic pregnancy, spontaneous abortion, birth defects or premature delivery.” Allegations linking abortion to a higher risk of breast cancer, depression, anxiety or suicide are untrue, Prager said.

Long-term mental health risks are no greater than for women who carry a pregnancy to term, she said.

A reporter asked about opponents who claim that science shows adverse effects of abortion, such as post-traumatic stress disorder or fetal pain.

“There is no scientific data that says abortion causes PTSD,” said Diana Greene Foster, PhD, director of research for the promotion of new standards and reproductive health at the University of California, San Francisco. “You can say that if you are politically motivated and do not care about science.”

“And just as well, people who are knowledgeable about fetal brain development dispute the concept that fetal pain occurs before 24 weeks,” Greene Foster added.

Another area of ​​confusion is the difference between “the morning-after-pill” and the medication-abortion pill. The morning-after pill is considered emergency contraception. “It’s a medication designed to prevent ovulation and thus to prevent a pregnancy from occurring,” Greene Foster said.

In contrast, medication abortion – the combination of mifepristone and misoprostol, also known as “the abortion pill” – is designed to interrupt an existing pregnancy up to 10 weeks.

Contribute to term and maternal risks

“Often what people think about abortion is not the real picture,” Prager said. “Access to safe and legal abortion reduces maternal mortality.”

The risk of death due to abortion is 0.7 per 100,000 compared to a risk of death due to 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 excessively affected by restrictions are also the ones who face higher death rates,” Prager added. “That risk is higher for some populations. It’s higher for black women in this country and American Indians and Alaska natives.”

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