Today, an extreme and unprecedented abortion bill, S.B. 8, went into effect in Texas. This law bans access to abortion at six weeks, before most people even know they are pregnant, and allows anyone in the U.S. to sue Texas abortion providers and those who assist patients in receiving an abortion. This legislation is clearly unconstitutional, as Roe v. Wade allows abortions up until viability. In the lead up to the law going into effect, it was challenged by multiple reproductive health groups in the hope that the Supreme Court would intervene before the September 1st date of effectiveness, yet no emergency action from the court was taken.
This strikes a devastating blow to abortion access in Texas. Unfortunately, this devastation will not be felt equally. Those who are well off will be able to travel out of the state to access the care they need. And that means the cruel impacts of this law will be disproportionately felt by Black and brown people, low-income people, young people, and the LGBTQ+ community.
Previous Supreme Court cases have established the unconstitutionality of such early bans, and no other six-week ban has ever survived in court before today. Still, this bill goes further—the legislation not only imposes a six-week ban, it allows anyone to take providers, health centers, and those who assist a patient in accessing an abortion to court. If they win, they receive $10,000. In effect, it puts a bounty on abortion providers, health centers, and anyone who helps patients obtain an abortion. S.B. 8’s goal is to intimidate and silence providers, health clinics, and their patients.
The passage of this tremendously restrictive legislation comes ahead of the Supreme Court’s agreement to hear a Mississippi case that will also prove a direct challenge to Roe v. Wade this fall. The non-action of the Supreme Court that allowed this transparently unconstitutional law to go into effect is a worrying signal for the future of abortion access across the country. This year has been the worst year for sexual and reproductive health and rights in recent history. Despite the fact that the majority of Americans support access to safe, legal, and accessible abortion care, 600 abortion restrictions were introduced this year alone, and 90 of those restrictions have passed.
But this is not the end of the story. Advocates have pledged to keep fighting until everyone is able to easily access this basic health care. Support for Texas abortion funds who are working on the ground to ensure that those who need an abortion are able to get one is vital.
In a statement, Population Institute’s President and CEO Kathleen Mogelgaard said of the Texas bill: “People everywhere deserve the right to comprehensive reproductive health care, including the right to safe, legal, compassionate abortion services. S.B. 8 dismisses the realities faced by thousands of people in Texas and across the country, and it cannot be allowed to stand.”