U.S. lawmakers poised for abortion rights fight

The U.S. Supreme Court dealt a blow to abortion rights Thursday by refusing to block Texas' new abortion ban - the strictest in the nation.

The 5-4 decision to deny an emergency request by abortion and women’s health providers to stop enforcement came late Wednesday night after the court had previously declined to act.

The Texas law took effect early on Wednesday and prohibits abortion after six weeks of pregnancy – even for victims of rape and incest.

It is a major milestone in the fight over abortion, as opponents have sought for decades to roll back access to the procedures.

The law would amount to a near-total ban on the procedure in Texas as 85% to 90% of abortions are obtained after six weeks of pregnancy, and would probably force many clinics to close, according to abortion rights groups.

Such a ban has never been permitted in any state since 1973 when the Supreme Court decided Roe v. Wade, the landmark ruling that legalized abortion nationwide.

President Joe Biden on Thursday said the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling on Texas' abortion ban "is an unprecedented assault on a woman's constitutional rights', and House speaker Nancy Pelosi said lawmakers will consider a women’s health protection act in the wake of the court’s decision.

On Thursday - White House press secretary Jen Psaki said the President has a message for women impacted by the new law.

“He would convey to them, I have asked my team to use every lever at their disposal to ensure you have this right, to ensure you have access, to ensure that you can have the ability to seek medical care in the way that every woman should have the right to across the country. And he has made that a priority."

A majority of Americans believe abortion should be legal in the United States, according to Reuters/Ipsos polling. Some 52% said it should be legal in most or all cases, with just 36% saying it should be illegal in most or all cases.