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This is America: Texas’ extreme abortion ban takes effect

September 09th, 2021
topics: Abortion
by: Monica Athnasious
located in: USA
tags: abortion, heartbeat bills, USA, women's rights

Despite a growing public outcry, the US Supreme Court chose not to intervene in voiding a Texas law that all but prohibits abortions in the state.

It’s happening… The Supreme Court failed to intervene in halting the SB 8 law. Texas will now essentially ban most abortions and become the first state in decades to do so.

The ban went into effect on Wednesday, 1 September, 2021. This particularly shocking ban previously made headlines in July for an added measure that incentivises anti-abortion advocates to sue doctors, clinics or those simply aiding a patient in obtaining an ‘illegal abortion’.

Bounty offered for reporting 'illegal' abortions

If successful in suing that abortion provider, individuals will not only be rewarded with a $10,000 bounty - yes, you read that right - but also have all legal expenses paid for.

This disturbing addition would mean that any anti-abortion individual can report or sue any one-person or clinic for aiding a patient in getting an abortion, even if they don’t live in the state or even know the patient.

You could be sued by a so-called abortion bounty hunter simply for driving a friend to a clinic. There is no making it up, although similar to something you’d watch in a Black Mirror episode, this law is now an actual reality for the residents of Texas.

'Heartbeat' bill will effectively outlaw all abortions in Texas

These alarming abortion bounty hunter measures will also be coupled with a ban of abortion at a mere six weeks of pregnancy - just after a fetal heartbeat is detected. Medical professionals who oppose the bill argue that the characterisation of, what they say are, simply vibrations of tissue development, as a “heartbeat” is incredibly misleading.

The ban of abortion at six weeks is worrying enough for reproductive rights activists who note that many people won’t even know they’re pregnant at six weeks, thus the law effectively challenges and undermines Roe v. Wade by essentially criminalising most abortions. According to pro-choice advocates, the new legislation will mean that at least 85 percent of Texas abortions will be outlawed.

As if it couldn’t get any worse, the new law also holds no exceptions for both rape or incest to allow an abortion, citing only “medical emergencies” as a valid special case to the rule.

Low-income, minority communities will be most affected 

This ban would force women seeking abortions to have to travel to bordering states like Oklahoma or Louisiana, which only have eight clinics between them.

Even if one were to travel to these neighbouring states, the reported similarly ‘hostile’ attitudes toward abortion and lack of medical availability could force those to move out even further for access to reproductive medical care.

These largely increasing distances would be most detrimental to those already experiencing other forms of oppression because of race, low-finance, sexuality, disability and even immigration status. SB 8’s enactment is a devastating blow to the work of reproductive rights in the country.

SB 8 portends a new anti-abortion era in the US

Pro-choice advocates called on the US Supreme Court on Monday, 30 August to urgently stop the ban from being legalised in Texas. The plaintiffs wrote to the court stating that “if permitted to take effect, SB 8 would immediately and catastrophically reduce abortion access in Texas” forcing “many abortion clinics to ultimately close.”

They argued that “patients who can scrape together resources will be forced to attempt to leave the state to obtain an abortion,”constricting those unable to leave to “remain pregnant against their will or attempt to end their pregnancies without medical supervision.” This desperate last-minute plea failed. Is this the future of the Amy Coney Barrett era?

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) took to Twitter this morning, “The Supreme Court has not responded to our emergency request to block Texas’ radical new six-week abortion ban, SB 8. The law now takes effect.”

It continued, “Access to almost all abortion has just been cut off for millions of people. The impact will be immediate and devastating.”

While many were optimistic that the law wouldn’t be passed as others alike have failed, some have pointed out that this Texas law was much harder to block.

SB 8’s design would mean that the abortion ban is enforced by private individuals in private lawsuits - the abortion bounty hunters - against accused abortion users and providers and not state government officials. In simple terms, this would mean that pro-choice organisations would have no one to sue or combat in court. 

Now that Texas (or, more accurately, the white men running the state) have won this round of regressive reproductive rights measures, a snowball effect is bound to ensue.

Opponents of the new law have argued that this will inspire other hostile (usually red) states to follow suit and endanger all reproductive rights in the US.

This article originally appeared on Screen Shot Media

Image by Ian Hutchinson

Article written by:
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Monica Athnasious
Author
USA
An activist, outside the Supreme Court in protest against the new Texas abortion law that prohibits the procedure around six weeks into a pregnancy.
© Drew Angerer via Getty Images
Abortion clinic in San Antonio, Texas. SB 8 will force many of them to ultimately close.
© Bloomberg via Getty Images
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