AUSTIN, TX- Governor Greg Abbott signed one of the states’ strictest abortion laws, barring abortions as early as six weeks into pregnancy.
Senate Bill 8 became a law at midnight, despite the US Supreme Court’s decision to not act with an emergency appeal. The new law prohibits abortions once a fetal heartbeat can be detected, which is usually around six weeks into pregnancy.
The legislation already faced several legal challenges weeks leading up to the September 1st deadline. The law will allow any Texas citizen to sue one who performs an abortion or assists in the process if a heartbeat is detected in the womb.
The law also leaves no exemptions in cases of rape or incest.
This Texas law is different from other restrictive abortion laws because instead of relying on officials to enforce the law, Texas citizens are allowed to sue abortion providers and anyone involved in “aiding and abetting” to abortions. This could include anyone driving a person to an abortion clinic.
Anyone who is successful in suing is entitled to $10,000, according to the law.
Abortion rights advocates say the law is written in a way to prevent federal courts from striking it down, in part because it’s hard to know whom to sue.
Abortion providers estimate that 85% of abortions will now become restricted in the lone star state, forcing many clinics to close. All Planned Parenthood has stopped scheduling the procedure beyond six weeks from conception. Places like Whole Woman’s Health are already turning away patients and following suit.
If the law remains as is, it would be the most restrictive strike against abortion rights in the US since the high court’s landmark Roe v. Wade decision, which legalized abortions across the nation back in 1973.
At least 12 other states have passed bans on abortion early in pregnancy, but all have been blocked from going into effect.
Reproductive rights advocates are willing to fight this new law as they believe it’s deemed unconstitutional.