On Jan. 22, 1973, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on Roe v. Wade, a landmark decision legalizing abortion across the United States. Roe v. Wade protects a woman’s right to seek an abortion under the 14th Amendment’s right to privacy and lays out a framework based on trimester. In the first trimester, all abortions must be legal. In the second trimester, the state may regulate abortions based on maternal health. In the third trimester, a state may ban abortions, but must have exceptions for when the mother’s or baby’s health is in danger. In the 1992 Supreme Court case Planned Parenthood v. Casey, the Court ruled that women have the right to an abortion until around 23 weeks of gestation, when there is a chance for fetal survival outside of the womb, further affirming Roe v. Wade. These rulings were a major win for women’s rights. However, this right is currently under attack across the country.

On Sept. 1, 2021, the Supreme Court allowed Texas, the nation’s second-most populous state, to effectively ban abortions for the first time in 50 years. The Supreme Court refused to block the Texas law, which allowed the most restrictive abortion measure in the nation to take effect. This law would ban all abortions after six weeks, which is before many woman even know that they are pregnant. This law does not provide any exceptions for rape or incest. According to The Guardian, even though “a dozen states have passed similar so-called “heartbeat” bills … none have yet been enforced due to court challenges.”

The reason this Texas law is different and inventive is because Texas turned enforcement over to private citizens rather than the state. Residents are encouraged to sue doctors or clinics who perform abortions and promised at least $10,000 from the state court, as well as coverage of legal fees for doing so. Justice Sonia Sotomayor explained Texas is essentially “[deputizing] the State’s citizens as bounty hunters.” If this approach to legal matters is upheld, it would open a precedent in which states could authorize citizens to file private lawsuits to undermine any right that they oppose, such as same-sex marriage. The allowance of this would clearly be detrimental to rights held by citizens across the country. This outsourcing of enforcement was an intentional maneuver by the Texas legislature aimed at avoiding judicial scrutiny.

Thus far, there has been one reported case of a doctor named Dr. Alan Braid performing an abortion in Texas as an act of defiance against the new law. This will set up a test case, as two people have already filed lawsuits against him. Oscar Stilley, a former lawyer, sued not because he is against the right to abortion, but to force a court review of Texas’ abortion law. Felipe Gomez asked to declare the Texas law unconstitutional in his lawsuit and said if he won the $10,000, he would donate it to an abortion rights group. The Center for Reproductive Rights will be representing Braid. According to NPR, Carol Sanger, a professor of law at Columbia University, believes that “being sued puts [Braid] in a position … that he will be able to defend the action against him by saying the law is unconstitutional.”

Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote in her dissent that it is shocking that the “state’s gambit worked.” Sotomayor went on to say that “the court has rewarded the state’s effort to delay federal review of a plainly unconstitutional statute, enacted in disregard of the Court’s precedents, through procedural entanglements of the state’s own creation.” The Supreme Court’s ruling and denial of emergency application is a frightening indicator of the future of abortion rights in the United States. Currently, the Court is the most conservative it has been since the 1930s, due to former President Donald Trump’s three judicial appointees during his term in office. The fact that these justices refused to intervene in regard to a law that directly goes against two constitutional precedents speaks volumes of their beliefs on the worthiness of the right to an abortion.

The immediate question at hand is not whether the Texas law is constitutional, but whether it can be challenged in federal court. In order for the law to be properly ruled on by the Supreme Court, the law must make it on the docket after going through the lower federal courts. Those who defend the law believe that due to the way the law is written, it can only be ruled on in Texas courts. Although the Texas law would not directly overturn Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court is set to rule on a Mississippi law in October that proposes to ban all abortions after 15 weeks, a law which has already been blocked in lower courts.

A federal district court judge on Wednesday decided to side with the Biden administration, which sued to halt the Texas law from going into effect. However, there is still the threat that clinics can be sued retroactively for abortions provided during this time period. There is also no guarantee that the Justice Department’s civil suit against Texas will make it to the Supreme Court should the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit rule that the Texas law is constitutional. If clinics are sued, it would impact all of their operations — not just their abortion services, which would put women who need health services from these clinics in terrible situations.

There is much still up in the air as to what the outcome is going to be for both the Mississippi and Texas law regarding a woman’s right to abortion. No matter the outcomes of these court rulings, a woman’s right to abortion is under attack in the United States. There have been thousands of demonstrations across the United States standing in opposition to Texas’ ban on abortions, and it is incumbent on all of us to protect the constitutional right of women to control their own bodies. If Texas’ law is upheld, we as a nation would be taking a major step back in the advancement of human rights in this country.

Eve Marks is a junior double-majoring in environmental studies and philosophy, politics and law.