Silence from the Supreme Court of the United States after XXX appeals have rendered legislation passed in May by the US State of Texas banning most abortions to be enforceable as of September 1.
The Texas law, signed by Republican Gov. Greg Abbott in May, prohibits abortions once medical professionals can detect cardiac activity, usually around six weeks and before most women know they are pregnant. In practical terms, the new legal status is tantamount to an overturn of the Roe v. Wade ruling in 1973.
According to Texan law, private citizens are authorized to sue abortion providers and anyone involved in facilitating abortions. Among other situations, that would include anyone who drives a woman to a clinic to get an abortion. Under the law, anyone who successfully sues another person would be entitled to at least $10,000.
“Starting today, every unborn child with a heartbeat will be protected from the ravages of abortion, Abbott said in a statement posted on Twitter. “Texas will always defend the right to life.”
President Joseph Biden said in a statement that the law “blatantly violates the constitutional right established under Roe v. Wade and upheld as precedent for nearly half a century.” Biden added that the law “outrageously gives private citizens the power “to bring lawsuits against anyone who they believe has helped another person get an abortion.”
Providers fighting the law have told the courts it would eliminate 85% of abortions statewide, force local clinics to close and women to travel hundreds of miles out of state for abortions — or to try to self-induce a miscarriage.
“This law opens up a bounty system, a vigilante-type system, that calls into question anyone who provides an abortion,” said Amy Hagstrom Miller, president and CEO of Whole Woman's Health, which operates four Texas clinics and had sued to stop the ban.
Texas had already enacted some of the nation’s toughest abortion restrictions in recent years. Those measures were later overturned by the courts but still took a toll on abortion providers who fought them. Last year, Gov. Greg Abbott managed to close Texas abortion clinics by declaring abortion among elective procedures suspended due to the pandemic. And in 2013, more than half of the state’s 40-plus clinics closed before the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a state abortion law.
Pojman said abortion opponents were monitoring legal challenges in other states that could affect the Texas ban. Later this fall, the Supreme Court is also expected to consider a Mississippi abortion ban after 15 weeks of pregnancy.
The American Medical Association said it was deeply disturbed by “this egregious law” and disappointed by the Supreme Court's inaction. The law “not only bans virtually all abortions in the state, but it interferes in the patient-physician relationship and places bounties on physicians and health care workers simply for delivering care,” said a statement from Dr Gerald E. Harmon, the AMA president.
Already, abortion clinics beyond the Texas border are feeling the impact. At the Trust Women clinic in Oklahoma City, there had been 80 appointments scheduled over the past two days, more than double the typical number of patients.
Another law taking effect Wednesday ended required firearm training and background checks to carry handguns in public in Texas, and GOP lawmakers on Tuesday approved election changes that will further tighten what are already some of the strictest voting laws in the nation.