Texas' Vigilante Abortion Law May Be Just the Beginning
Monday, December 13, 2021
AUSTIN, Texas - Texas has captured headlines over its law banning nearly all abortions, but other states soon may share the spotlight after the U.S. Supreme Court allowed the Texas law to stand.
The law bans abortions after six weeks of pregnancy, with no exceptions for rape or incest. It also promises a $10,000 bounty to citizens if they win a court case against anyone who has helped someone gain access to an abortion.
At a virtual press conference Friday, American Civil Liberties Union Reproductive Freedom Project Staff Attorney Julia Kaye said if the Supreme Court overturns the constitutional right to an abortion, she expects roughly half the states to follow Texas' lead.
"Five justices on the Supreme Court have shrugged their shoulders in the face of the catastrophic harm in Texas," said Kaye, "ignoring 50 years of legal precedent forbidding states from stripping away our fundamental right to end a pregnancy."
The high court's 5-to-4 vote said providers could still sue in federal court. Since the Friday decision, legal experts have warned that nearly every constitutional right is now at risk.
And to that end, California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Saturday called on lawmakers in that state to pass legislation modeled on the Texas abortion law as a strategy to go after the gun industry.
Dr. Bhavik Kumar, a staff physician with the Planned Parenthood Center for Choice in Houston, noted how difficult the past 100 days have been on the Center's staff.
"Over and over again, we are forced to violate our conscience and our training, and turn away patients who need us," said Kumar. "And we have no good answers to their questions of why this is happening or when it might end."
Amy Hagstrom Miller is the president and CEO of Whole Woman's Health and Whole Woman's Health Alliance and oversees abortion clinics, including the center in McAllen. She called the court's decision unjust, cruel and inhumane.
"Our staff are heartbroken, scared and discouraged," said Miller. "They're angry at having to serve as agents of the state against their will, to enforce a law they don't agree with."
Texas' Senate Bill 8 has been in effect since September 1.
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