How decades of abortion law precedent have been overturned.
SB8- Texas AKA Texas Heartbeat Act
Passed May 19, 2021
Greg is an Uber driver who took a woman to Planned Parenthood last week. Now he is getting sued for assisting in the abortion. Under the Texas Abortion Act, anyone who aids or is remotely involved in an abortion can be sued by someone with no relationship to the case at all.
WHY THIS POLICY?
The Texas Heartbeat Act was proposed by Senator Bryan Hughes and signed into law by Governor Greg Abbot. Supporters of the bill believe that abortion takes away the right to live from unborn children. Abbot praised the law saying it “ensures that the life of every unborn child who has a heartbeat will be saved from the ravages of abortion.” This law has been on the Republican agenda as they have been making efforts to restrict abortion with policies such as HB-2. HB-2 bans abortions at 20 weeks and requires that abortions follow an older protocol from the FDA and that abortion facilities meet standards of surgical centers. The state of Texas is prevented from enforcing the law, but instead allows for private individuals to sue healthcare providers and anyone involved in the abortion: from the professional performing it, to the person driving a woman to get the abortion. This makes it difficult to challenge the constitutionality of this law because the court considers Abortion a political question, meaning it is too politically heated for the federal court to make conclusive opinions. Also, in the words of Justice Kennedy, the Supreme Court is “ a court of law… not a court of justice.” which means the court can not make blanket moral conclusions about whether Abortion is right or not.
Overall, the Democratic Party is extremely unhappy with the Texas Heartbeat Act being passed and is vowing to protect abortion rights. In general, the Democratic Party stands in support of abortion rights and safe access to it. They believe banning or restricting abortion infringes on a woman’s rights to her own body and support advancing reproductive rights. Democrats would argue that this law is harsh and cruel, something they would like to work to repeal immediately.
On the other side, the Republican Party is generally anti-abortion and have consistently been creating laws restricting it; however, this law was extremely strict even for many republicans, as few women even know they are pregnant at six weeks. It is feared that this act will create opposition against Republicans in the 2022 midterms. Many also do not like how it allows private citizens to sue anyone involved in an abortion. Representative Adam Kinzinger said that private citizens are “deputized to enforce this abortion law.” The law also provides no exceptions for rape or incest which many Republicans are against; however, Governor Abbot claims they will focus on “eliminat[ing] all rapists from the streets of Texas” so that no one will be a victim of rape.
This bill was signed into law on May 19 and upheld by the Supreme Court in a case named Whole Woman’s Health v. Jackson when it appeared on the shadow docket, which is when the majority decision does not explain the court’s reasoning. The outcome was a 5-4 decision to deny the appeal to block the new anti-abortion law. Overall, many conservatives will be happy about the new anti abortion law, but many fear the lengths it goes to and that empowering private citizens to insert themselves in the personal businesses of others may be going too far. Democrats and liberals fear that it will obstruct women's rights.
Women in Texas will be significantly impacted by this new law. Many women are completely unaware that they are even pregnant at six weeks, making it difficult for them to get an abortion without getting sued. This forces them to go out of state for an abortion, even if the pregnancy was a result of rape or incest. Not only does this law effect the women getting abortions, but also anyone involved in the process at all which is why the law can be dangerous. Private citizens are now able to sue anyone aiding or assisting in the process in order to enforce this new act. It can result in women getting unsafe abortions, putting their own health in danger. The Texas Heartbeat Act is seen as a violation of women's health rights and many believe it is unconstitutional although the way it is written makes it hard to prove so because the states are not the ones enforcing it. The act has caused an uproar and sparked protests against those who signed it into law.