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Supreme Court refuses to block Texas' restrictive abortion ban

A 5-4 Supreme Court early Thursday rejected an emergency request to block Texas' six-week abortion ban.

Chief Justice John Roberts joined the three liberal justices in dissent. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) signed the law in May, and it went into effect midnight Wednesday. Under the law, abortions are prohibited once an ultrasound can detect what lawmakers describe as a "fetal heartbeat." This is typically around six weeks, which is before many women learn they are pregnant. The law is enforced by private individuals who can earn $10,000 bonuses for successful prosecutions.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has said "fetal heartbeat" at this stage is not an accurate term, as it is "actually electrically induced flickering of a portion of the fetal tissue that  will become the heart as the embryo develops."

Abortion providers and reproductive rights advocates tried to block the law before it went into effect, arguing that it makes women in the state lose constitutionally protected access to abortion. In an unsigned order, the Supreme Court said in "reaching this conclusion, we stress that we do not purport to resolve definitively any jurisdictional or substantive claim in the applicants' lawsuit. In particular, this order is not based on any conclusion about the constitutionality of Texas' law, and in no way limits other procedurally proper challenges to the Texas law, including in Texas state courts."