What’s Happening in Texas?
The Texas abortion law went into effect Wednesday, Sep. 1. This law prohibits most abortions after six weeks. As of last Wednesday, the Supreme Court refused right before midnight to block the Texas law, less than a day after it went into effect. The vote was 5 to 4, with the chief justice John G. Roberts Jr. joining the court’s three liberal members in disagreement.
For background, Roe v. Wade, 410 U.S. 113, was a landmark decision of the U.S. Supreme Court in which the Court ruled that the Constitution of the United States protects a pregnant woman’s liberty to choose to have an abortion without government restriction. Because of the Texas Abortion law, government officials and women’s rights activists have started challenging the idea that Roe v. Wade is being overturned.
What Does the Law Include?
In simpler terms, the law bans abortion as soon as cardiac activity can be detected. That is just at the cusp of the six-week mark. For most women, six weeks is about the time you suspect pregnancy in the body. This law is also distinct from other laws that have tried to be passed before in other states. Texas allows the public to help enforce this new law; individuals and public officials can bring civil lawsuits against abortion providers or anyone else who could help aid or abet abortions.
Texas Right to Life decided to go a step further to create a website that allows the public to create anonymous “whistleblower” tips that could include someone’s information who is violating the abortion law. According to John Seago with Texas Right to Life in an article from NPR, “The lawsuits would be against the individuals making money off the abortion, the abortion industry itself. So, this is not to spy on your neighbor and see if they’re having an abortion.”
What Does it Mean for Women and Providers?
This ban likely means that women in need of abortion will have to travel elsewhere, sometimes without safety, comfort and privacy to receive medical treatment without being exploited by the Texas government. Doctors at Planned Parenthood in Texas have sworn they will follow new regulations, but this causes uncertainty to those providers. As for the providers currently practicing in Texas, there will be a change in the way they can practice under Texas law and the care they provide for pregnant women.
What are the Next Steps?
Many court challenges have begun, including multiple newly formed lawsuits in the state court of Texas. These court challenges and lawsuits are targeting anti-abortion rights groups, including Texas Right to Life. Abortion rights groups are also beginning to organize many protests and demonstrations in Texas in opposition to the new law. Many women and human rights activists are taking a stand in D.C and Texas, showing their anger towards the new law. As a regular citizen, there is not much to do to make safer regulations for women in Texas. Many fear the outcome of this new law and its effects on other state’s decisions on abortion.