A Texas law that would effectively ban all abortions is set to take effect on Wednesday after an appeals court canceled a hearing Friday designed to challenge the law.
The U.S. 5th Circuit Court Appeals was scheduled to have a hearing today to determine the constitutionality of the Texas abortion ban, SB 8. The court, however, canceled the hearing late Friday evening. Abortion providers then filed emergency motions on Saturday to block the law from going into effect, but the appeals court denied those motions Sunday.
SB 8 would ban abortions after six weeks of pregnancy, before most people are aware they are pregnant. In addition, the law would empower private citizens to sue anyone who helps a person get an abortion after six weeks of pregnancy, including someone who offers financial assistance for the abortion or transportation to a clinic. SB 8 deputizes private citizens to enforce the ban by offering individuals a $10,000 award for every successful suit.
Several abortion rights organizations, such as Whole Woman’s Health, Planned Parenthood, and the Center for Reproductive Rights filed a lawsuit to challenge the ban in July. Providers have called the law a “bounty hunting scheme.”
“If this law is not blocked by September 1, abortion access in Texas will come to an abrupt stop,” Marc Hearron, senior counsel for the Center of Reproductive Rights, told the Texas Tribune.
According to Whole Women’s Health, 90% of patients seeking abortion care in Texas are beyond six weeks of pregnancy.
“Laws like SB 8 cause harm,” said Amy Hagstrom Miller, President and CEO of Whole Women’s Health Alliance.
“Patients know that having an abortion is what is best for them. Abortion bans do not help them to prevent unplanned pregnancy or give them resources to plan their families—they will block highly trained, compassionate professionals like our clinic staff teams from providing care. This will force Texans to continue pregnancies against our will; and will force pregnant people to flee to other states or take matters into their own hands.”
Sources: Texas Tribune 8/29/21; The Guardian 8/30/21; Feminist Newswire 7/14/21; The Hill 8/29/21; Whole Women’s Health Alliance 2021