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US Supreme Court hears challenges on Texas abortion law

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By Euronews  with AFP, AP
Pro-choice demonstrators are seen outside of the US Supreme Court in Washington, DC on November 1, 2021.
Pro-choice demonstrators are seen outside of the US Supreme Court in Washington, DC on November 1, 2021.   -   Copyright  MANDEL NGAN / AFP   -  

Protesters on both sides of the argument gathered outside the US Supreme Court in Washington on Monday, as the conservative-majority court hears challenges to the highly restrictive Texas abortion law.

The court heard arguments about the controversial new abortion law in Texas that has all but ended the procedure in the state.

The Texas law, which bans abortions after cardiac activity is detected in a foetus -- usually around six weeks and before some women know they are pregnant -- and puts enforcement of the law in the hands of private citizens, was challenged by Whole Woman's Health and the Department of Justice in federal court, who argued that it violates Roe v Wade, the 1973 case that guarantees the right to an abortion in America.

The law makes exceptions for medical emergencies but not for rape or incest.

The ban has been in effect since September when the Supreme Court declined to intervene, except for a 48-hour period in early October when it was blocked by a lower court.

The high court got involved again less than two weeks ago, moving at extraordinary speed.

The court offered no explanation for its decision to hear the cases so quickly but signalled that it will allow a legal challenge to the ban, which was signed into law by Gov. Greg Abbott in May.

If the court allows the providers to continue their lawsuit, it would still take a separate order from the justices or a lower court to put the law on hold.

This latest consideration is not over the issue of abortion but the wording of the law and if it contravenes pre-existing constitutional rights.

At least 12 other Republican-led states have enacted bans early in pregnancy, but all have been blocked from going into effect by courts because they violated previous Supreme Court rulings that guaranteed the right to an abortion until the fetus is viable outside the womb, typically around 22 to 24 weeks.

Watch the full report in the video player above.