Texas virtually banned abortion overnight
This summer, Texas politicians stepped up their attacks on reproductive rights with the backing of Gov. Greg Abbott (R). Just two months ago, Abbott signed two of the most extreme anti-abortion laws in the country. Despite efforts by reproductive rights organizations to block the legislation, Texas’ draconian abortion laws went into effect at midnight on Wednesday – much to the horror of many.
Under the new legislation, virtually all abortions in Texas are banned after a fetal heartbeat is discovered. These can be detected as early as six weeks pregnant, which is before most people even know they are pregnant. (Six weeks after the onset of a pregnancy can often mean just two weeks after a person first missed their period.) In some other states, these heartbeat bills have been struck down for banning menstruation. abortion before viability. Under Roe vs. Wade, the Supreme Court noted that states can ban abortions after fetal viability, but any attempt to do so in advance would defy Roe deer decision.
However, Texas found a way to beat the Supreme Court. Instead of relying on the state to prosecute people, one of the new laws in force allows individuals to sue anyone who helps others access abortion. This means not only that abortion providers can be sued, but also organizations or individuals who help with other methods, such as covering costs or driving someone to the clinic. Those who sue can receive at least $ 10,000 in damages if the lawsuit is successful.
Effectively, Texas has turned those who campaign against reproductive rights into vigilantes, who now have state support to continue their harassment and intimidation. Last week, reproductive rights organizations including the Center for Reproductive Rights and the Texas Equal Access Fund appealed to the Supreme Court to prevent the bills from coming into force. The emergency request came after the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals rejected a request to freeze the laws.
But unsurprisingly, the conservative SCOTUS majority decided to let the laws take effect. Nancy Northup, CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights, told Democracy Now! in an interview, “Our client Whole Women’s Health was open until 11:59 pm last night to see patients because people wanted to come in and exercise their right to make decisions for their lives, their health and their future until midnight. “
In videos of the bill signing ceremony, Abbott provides his rationale for passing the laws, saying, “Our creator endowed us with the right to life and yet millions of children lose their right to life every year because of the abortion. He added that the legislature “has worked together on a bipartisan basis to pass a bill that I am about to sign that ensures that the life of every unborn child who has a heartbeat will be saved from the ravages of the world. ‘abortion”.
Make no mistake about it, however. These laws will put many lives at risk. Limiting access to abortion is already linked to poor maternal health outcomes. The Center for American Progress reported that this had already been observed in Texas, where the rate of maternal deaths fell from 72 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2010 to 148 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2012.
The outlet continued: “Reproductive health experts have linked the rise in maternal deaths to state-imposed limitations on funding for abortion and reproductive health – including cuts in health care. family planning services and funding from Planned Parenthood – which took place during the same time window. “
Although the laws have just come into effect, the landscape of abortion in Texas has changed dramatically in less than a day. A Twitter user recounted that a friend in Texas reported that “fanatics have brought projectors to be trained in the procedure rooms to inform clients and staff they would monitor, waiting to prosecute.”
So far, a number of politicians, including Representatives Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) and Veronica Escobar (D-Texas) spoke out against the near total ban on abortion in Texas. On Twitter, Barbara Lee (D-California) wrote: “Texas anti-abortion law will put the health of millions of people at risk, especially low-income people and people of color.” Each of the politicians ended their tweets with calls for the passage of the law on the protection of women’s health.
The fight in Texas is far from over. But now it has taken on another dimension. Restricting abortions does not mean that people who want them will do without them. Instead, they will be forced to turn to dangerous methods. As organizations continue to fight Texas laws, the reality for people in need of abortion care in Lone Star State is grim.