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Everything You Need To Know About The New Near-Total Abortion Ban In Texas

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In Texas, the strictest anti-abortion law in the country went into effect on September 1st, after the Supreme Court failed to take action to stop it.

What does this new law mean for women seeking abortion?

The Texas law bans abortion as soon as a fetal heartbeat is detected — that’s six weeks after a woman’s last period. Considering six weeks is only a month and a half, many women don’t even realize they are pregnant by then.

Despite the legal precedent of Roe V. Wade, in which the Supreme Court made it illegal for states to ban abortion 22 to 24 weeks, this new Texas anti-abortion law has found a way around these restrictions.

Usually, people can sue state governments for breaking the constitution by naming a state official as a defendant, i.e., they can directly point to the government as the person violating someone’s rights. But this Texas law was drafted so that state officials aren’t allowed to enforce the abortion ban. The people who are supposed to enforce the anti-abortion law — and sue abortion providers — are private citizens.

That means private citizens in Texas are supposed to sue abortion providers if they think they are offering abortions to women who are past six weeks pregnant.

How will this law be enforced?

We know what you’re thinking: if state officials aren’t allowed to enforce this law, how will it be enforced? As of now, pro-life groups will rely on “whistleblowers” to sue abortion providers or anyone who “aids and abet” abortions.

Already, the pro-life organization Texas Right To Life has set up a “whistleblower” website that allows people to report people who they suspect of providing an abortion. And “aiding and abetting” an abortion can be as simple as driving a woman to an abortion clinic.

Who can be sued under this new law?

Women who get abortions are not allowed to be sued under this law. However, both abortion-providers and anyone who “aids and abets” an abortion is fair game to be sued by a civilian. According to The New York Times, this includes “doctors, staff members at clinics, counselors, people who help pay for the procedure, even an Uber driver taking a patient to an abortion clinic”.

Who will this law impact the most?

This near-total abortion ban disproportionately affects both lower-income women and women of color, as they are less likely to have the resources to travel out of state to get an abortion. Traveling out of state not only costs money, it takes time. And many lower-income women do not have the luxury to call out of work last minute for a few days in order to get an abortion.

“I know that there are many people who don’t have to ability to make it out of state … The logistics and ability to do so is not an option for them,” said Planned Parenthood doctor Bhavik Kumarto NPR. “So I’m really concerned about what’s going to happen to people.”

Despite these extreme mandates, pro-life advocates insist that the law is not meant to target women.

“These lawsuits are not against the women,” said John Seago, the Legislative Director of Texas Right to Life, to NPR. “The lawsuits would be against the individuals making money off of the abortion, the abortion industry itself. So this is not spy on your neighbor and see if they’re having an abortion.”

Despite Seago’s assurances, we have a feeling that this is exactly what will end up happening.

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