TEXAS (CBSDFW.COM) – The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled on Texas’ controversial law restricting abortions after about six weeks of pregnancy, allowing it to remain in effect and for abortion providers to sue.

The court acted Friday, more than a month after hearing arguments over the law that makes abortion illegal after cardiac activity is detected in an embryo. That’s around six weeks, before some women even know they are pregnant. There are no exceptions for rape or incest.

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“Finally, we have hope for an end to this horrific abortion ban. The legal back and forth has been excruciating for our patients and gut-wrenching for our staff. We’ve had to turn hundreds of patients away since this ban took effect, and the Supreme Court’s refusal to block the law means the heartbreak doesn’t end,” said Amy Hagstrom Miller, president and CEO of Whole Woman’s Health and Whole Woman’s Health Alliance. “Texans deserve abortion care in their own communities. Our fight against this law is not over, and Whole Woman’s Health is here for the long haul. We hope this law is blocked quickly so we can resume the full scope of abortion care we are trained to provide.”

Instead of state officials enforcing the law, anyone who “aids or abets” a disallowed abortion is open to lawsuits, with penalties of at least $10,000 per case if lost.

A day before the Supreme Court ruling, on Dec. 9, a state judge ruled the law violates the Texas Constitution, saying it should not be enforced in court.

The Texas law was specifically designed to put obstacles in the way of legal challenges, and so far it has worked.

Since it took effect in September, the law has imposed the most restrictive abortion curbs in the nation since the Supreme Court first declared a woman’s right to an abortion in its 1973 Roe v. Wade decision.

In its first month of operation, a study published by researchers at the University of Texas found that the number of abortions statewide fell by 50% compared with September 2020. The study was based on data from 19 of the state’s 24 abortion clinics, according to the Texas Policy Evaluation Project.

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Texas residents who left the state seeking an abortion also have had to travel well beyond neighboring states, where clinics cannot keep up with the increase in patients from Texas, according to a separate study by the Guttmacher Institute.

The justices declined to block the law once before, voting 5-4 in September to let it take effect. At the time, the three appointees of former President Donald Trump and two other conservative colleagues formed the majority.

(© Copyright 2021 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)




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CBSDFW.com Staff