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Texas Catastrophic Abortion Ban Goes into Effect: Supreme Court Refuses to Act

Texas’s six-week abortion ban went into effect today after the Supreme Court failed to act on abortion providers’ emergency filing to block the law. The ban essentially ends abortion access in Texas, the second-largest state in the country.

The ban, which is the strictest in the country, prohibits abortions from being performed after six weeks of pregnancy, before most even people know they are pregnant. The law allows for no exception for rape or incest. This is the first time that a six-week ban has actually taken effect.

Abortion providers argue that the ban eliminates the protections granted by Roe v. Wade in Texas and will “immediately and catastrophically reduce abortion access in Texas, barring care for at least 85 percent of Texas abortion patients (those who are six weeks pregnant or greater) and likely forcing many abortion clinics to close.”

“Our ability to provide the best health care for our patients has been turned over to self-appointed vigilantes. This is an abortion ban, plain and simple,” said Amy Hagstrom Miller, president and CEO of Whole Women’s Health. “It robs Texans of their ability to make decisions about their health and their futures. We have been here before, and we’ll continue serving our patients however we legally can and fighting for their right to safe, compassionate abortion care.”

After the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals canceled a hearing to consider a preliminary injunction of the law on Friday, abortion providers filed an emergency request Monday to ask the Supreme Court to block the ban. The Supreme Court did not act on the request.

The Texas law, known as SB 8, also allows private citizens to sue anyone who aids and abets someone getting an abortion after six weeks, including someone who offers financial assistance for the procedure or provides transportation to a clinic. Some argue it places a “bounty” on those who help people get abortions, given that it offers a $10,000 reward to individuals who bring successful suits.

Eleanor Smeal, President of Feminist Majority, stated, “this is the most outrageous, insulting, and harmful anti-abortion bill that has ever been considered in our country. There is no law and order here– this bill not only robs individuals of their bodily autonomy, it deputizes extremists with the power to harass any person remotely connected to an abortion patient. It is a clear violation of Roe v. Wade.”

“In the last decade, the Texas legislature has passed many racist, classist, and dangerous abortion restrictions that have made it very difficult to access care,” Kamyon Conner, executive director of Texas Equal Access Fund, said in a statement. “This law essentially bans abortions and codifies intimidation. Anti-abortion politicians are empowering extremists to use lawsuits to harass and intimidate anyone who helps someone get an abortion.”

Abortion providers such as Whole Woman’s Health and Planned Parenthood were performing abortions up until midnight last night.

“Our clinic staff in Texas worked until midnight last night and showed right back up to take care of patients this morning. This is what heroes do,” Whole Women’s Health tweeted this morning.

“To be clear: Planned Parenthood health centers remain open, and we are here to help Texans navigate this dangerous law,” Alexis McGill Johnson, President and CEO of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said on Twitter. “We will continue to fight in courts for abortion rights and access.”

Sources: Washington Post 9/1/21; CNN 9/1/21; New York Times 8/30/21; Feminist Newswire 8/30/21; Planned Parenthood 8/30/21; Twitter 9/1/21; Twitter 9/1/21

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