Unlike previous attempts to ban abortion in some states, the latest law empowers regular citizens, instead of authorities, to sue people involved in abortion in exchange for a reword if the case is won in court. The US Supreme Court has not struck down the legislation as unconstitutional so far.
US President Joe Biden has harshly criticised the recently passed anti-abortion Texas Senate Bill 8, calling it unconstitutional. The Democrat POTUS vowed to challenge it and fight for the preservation of abortion rights granted by the landmark Roe v. Wade case.
“The Texas law will significantly impair women’s access to the health care they need, particularly for communities of color and individuals with low incomes. And, outrageously, it deputizes private citizens to bring lawsuits against anyone who they believe has helped another person get an abortion”, Biden said.
Bill 8 went into effect today with the US Supreme Court remaining silent so far on complaints from abortion providers and pro-abortion rights activists, despite a history of striking down similar pieces of state legislation in the past. The Texas law effectively bans abortions of foetuses with a detectable heartbeat. This is usually detected six weeks after conception.
However, abortion rights advocates insist that most women are not even aware they are pregnant at this stage and won’t’ have time to make a decision to have an abortion. In addition, the law does not make exceptions for victims of rape and incest.
It is unclear whether the law will stand, since it is drastically different from the abortion bans passed in 13 other US states that have been repealed by the US Supreme Court since the Roe v. Wade case legalised abortions in 1973. The Texas Bill 8 deputised ordinary citizens with upholding the ban on post-six-week abortions instead of the state authorities. Under the new law, any Texan can file a suit against a woman having an abortion, as well as anyone helping her with this matter – even the driver who took her to the clinic. If the case succeeds, the accuser can get a reward of $10,000 and more.
Texan women still have the option of travelling to other states to have an abortion or ordering special abortion pills via mail, but state lawmakers are already preparing to prohibit the latter too.