texas abortion laws

Photo by Bannon Morrissy

Texas's Abortion Law Is In Effect And Here's What You Need To Know

That gray area where you think you’ve missed your cycle, but you’re hoping it’s just irregular, no longer exist.

By: Iman Josey
By: Iman Josey

Read Time: 1 Minutes

Early Wednesday morning, Texas Law Senate Bill 8 restricting abortion went into effect. In a disappointing fight, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to block Texas’ new law banning abortions as early as six weeks into pregnancy, thus keeping in place. This law is viewed as the most restrictive abortion law in the country.

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The vote was 5 to 4, with the Supreme Court’s three liberals opposing the law, joined by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., who called it“not only unusual but unprecedented.” This law will eliminate the power of choice for many women while acting as a shiny new trophy for anti-abortion conservatives. 

TX SB8 is more commonly known as “the heartbeat bill,” which criminalizes having an abortion after only six weeks of pregnancy. According to Health Line, most heartbeats are first detected at about 4-6 weeks of pregnancy which is not long after finally realizing that you’ve missed a cycle. Surprisingly many people think six weeks is plenty of time, but I’ll gladly stand to say that those people are wrong.

The fine print

In this bill, there are no exceptions for rape or incest. This means that the punishment for the victim is far harsher than the punishment for the preditor, and the state law can try both parties. SB8 also places responsibility for enforcing the rule on members of the general public, allowing anyone to sue for damages someone they suspect is “aiding and abetting” an abortion. This help includes “family members, health care workers, front desk staff at a health care clinic, or strangers with no connection to the individual,” but also “those who give a woman a ride to a clinic or provide financial assistance in obtaining an abortion.” The public is baited with $10,000 in assistance for reporting and suing anyone who may violate this law. According to the New York Times, “what’s known as the litigation privilege would likely protect [the person suing you] from a defamation claim even if [they’re] wrong.”

“This morning, I woke up feeling deep sadness. I am worried. I am numb,” Miller said. “[The law] robs people of their ability to make decisions about their health and their future.”

― Amy Hagstrom Miller, CEO of Whole Woman’s Health Tweet
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This constitutes a uniquely insidious workaround to Roe as only 10% of clinics patients come within the first six weeks.

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