TEXAS ABORTION BAN
This past September, there was an uproar after Governor Greg Abbott of Texas signed a new type of abortion restriction law. The bill effectively restricts abortions after an ultrasound can detect a “heartbeat,” which is typically six weeks into pregnancy. Though other states have unsuccessfully tried to pass similar laws, this ban is worded in a way that circumvents the precedent of Roe v. Wade. As opposed to banning abortion straight out, the bill rewards any person who successfully sues someone involved in an abortion. It reimburses the legal bill and provides a $10,000 reward.
Though this bill does not directly ban abortions, it may be increasingly hard for women in Texas to receive an abortion. Many abortion clinics will shut down, as they do not want to deal with lawsuits. This law encourages anti-abortion supporters to sue any person they know may be involved in an abortion, even with no proof. A person could be fined thousands of dollars for being involved with an abortion in any way. This might include paying for the abortion, driving someone to their appointment, or performing the procedure itself. The law directly targets the people administering the abortion, and only indirectly targets the women. Additionally, the Texas law offers no exceptions for cases of incest or rape.
Abortion rights advocates have made it clear they will not condone this bill. Many claim this bill is a violation of a woman’s constitutional right to an abortion. In early September, a majority vote in the Supreme Court allowed this ban to remain in place, denying it an emergency appeal. Justice Elena Kagan claims the law is “patently unconstitutional” and “allows for private parties to carry out unconstitutional restrictions on the State’s behalf.” Justice Stephen Breyer along with Justice Sonia Sotomayor agree that this law prohibits women from exercising their constitutional rights. Chief Justice John Roberts joined these three liberal justices, voting to halt the Texas abortion ban. The remaining five conservative justices allowed the ban to remain in effect for the time being.
Currently everyone is on edge waiting for the Supreme Court to declare the final ruling regarding the abortion law. Meanwhile, other states like Mississippi are coming out with similar abortion laws. Just as the Supreme Court ruling regarding Roe v. Wade revolutionized the right to choose regarding abortions, this ruling regarding abortions in Texas may set the stage for moving abortion rights in an entirely different direction.
Najmabadi, S. (2021, May 19). Gov. Greg Abbott signs into law one of nation's strictest abortion measures, banning procedure as early as six weeks into a pregnancy. The Texas Tribune. Retrieved December 6, 2021, from https://www.texastribune.org/2021/05/18/texas-heartbeat-bill-abortions-law/.
Totenberg, N. (2021, November 1). Novel texas abortion case is back at the Supreme Court. NPR. Retrieved December 6, 2021, from https://www.npr.org/2021/11/01/1050378379/novel-texas-abortion-case-back-at-supreme-court.
Press, A. (2021, September 2). Supreme Court votes 5-4 to leave Texas abortion law in place. Fox News. Retrieved December 6, 2021, from https://www.foxnews.com/us/supreme-court-votes-5-4-to-leave-texas-abortion-law-in-place.
Casey, R., Carnett, L., & Rivard, R. (2021, September 6). Our clever new abortion law - and a proposal to learn from it. San Antonio Report. Retrieved December 6, 2021, from https://sanantonioreport.org/rick-casey-texas-abortion-law/.