Near-Total Abortion Ban Goes Into Effect In Texas

What amounts to a near-total abortion ban went into effect last night in Texas which prohibits most abortions after a fetal heartbeat can be detected (about six weeks into pregnancy). Several health experts note that many women don’t even know they are pregnant at that point.

From the New York Times:

The law, known as Senate Bill 8, amounts to a nearly complete ban on abortion in Texas, one that will further fuel legal and political battles over the future of Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that established a constitutional right to abortion.

The law makes no exceptions for pregnancies resulting from incest or rape.

Supreme Court precedents forbid states from banning abortion before fetal viability, the point at which fetuses can sustain life outside the womb, or about 22 to 24 weeks.

Instead of state officials enforcing the new law, it allows private individuals to sue anyone who performs the procedure or “aids and abets” it.

So, if a family member or even an Uber driver helps a woman to an abortion clinic, they could be sued. Counselors or staff members at clinics, anyone who might pay for the procedure, they all are potential defendants.

Those filing the lawsuits don’t have to have any connection to the situation – they could be complete strangers. And they are being offered a $10,000 “bounty” for turning people in.

Abortion providers in the state urged the U.S. Supreme Court to intervene saying that the near-total abortion ban “would immediately and catastrophically reduce abortion access in Texas, barring care for at least 85 percent of Texas abortion patients.”

Gov. Greg Abbott signed the legislation into law in May.