In the Runup to What Could Be Another Roe v. Wade Showdown, Another Iron Curtain Descends on Reproductive Rights in America
A couple of days ago we learned that the governor of Mississippi had signed into law a blanket prohibition against abortion after 15 weeks.
Not to be outdone, the governor of another slave state, Texas, has enacted a six-week abortion ban. And it's wild.Senate Bill 8 (SB 8), passed by both chambers of the Republican-dominated Texas legislature, bars abortion at six weeks of pregnancy with no exception for rape or incest, amounting to a near-total ban as most women are not aware they are pregnant at this stage. While a dozen states have passed similar so-called “heartbeat” bills – bans on abortion once embryonic cardiac activity is detected – none have yet been enforced due to court challenges.
In fact, any individual can sue anyone who “aids or abets” abortion care or someone who “intends” to help an abortion patient, a breathtakingly wide range of possible people and groups. While those who sue can collect a minimum of $10,000 if they are successful, those unjustly sued cannot recover legal fees. The anti-abortion law’s private enforcement provision is the first of its kind in the country.
“This law is so broadly written it could target not just abortion clinics and staff but anyone that volunteers or donates to an abortion fund or activist organization like ours,” says Aimee Arrambide, executive director of reproductive rights advocacy group, Avow Texas. “Domestic violence and rape crisis counselors who offer guidance, family members who lend money to abortion patients, a friend who gives a ride to an appointment, or even someone that provides an address to a clinic could also face lawsuits.”