High Court's Abortion Ruling Sets Up Texas Ban, Criminalization
Monday, June 27, 2022
The ruling on abortion by the U.S. Supreme Court has returned the issue to the states, fulfilling long-held goals of Republican lawmakers in Texas to ban and criminalize abortion.
With the 49-year-old Row v. Wade case overturned, a trigger law takes effect next month, banning abortions from the moment of fertilization - there is no exception for rape or incest.
Texas lawmakers were ahead of the high court, passing legislation last fall to prohibit abortions after six weeks. Aimee Arrambide, executive director of the Texas chapter of the abortion rights group Avow, said she expects half the states to follow Texas' lead.
"We've been ringing the alarm that what is happening in Texas, doesn't stay in Texas," said Arrambide. "And that the public health crisis Texans have been facing for nearly 10 months will be the reality in half the country. Our opponents are not going to stop until abortion is completely inaccessible in the country."
In his concurring opinion with the 6-3 vote, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas said high court rulings that established a right to contraception, as well as gay rights should also be reconsidered.
Following the ruling, Texas GOP Gov. Greg Abbott said abolishing Roe v. Wade, "reinstated the right of states to protect innocent, unborn children."
New Mexico is now the closest state for many Texans seeking an abortion, but getting there may not be possible for low-income people who don't have the time, money or child care to travel out of state. Progress Texas Advocacy Director Diana Gomez said education is the next step.
"There are a lot of folks who don't know about the existence of abortion funds," said Gomez, "of infrastructures that are already in place to help people get abortions, and so we want to let people know about clinics in surrounding states."
In addition to Texas, 25 other states are expected to make abortion illegal, affecting the lives of 36 million people. University of Texas at Austin Associate Professor Kari White said entire regions of the country may soon be in the business of extreme criminalization.
"In a state like Texas," said White, "it's also going to criminalize a whole range of behaviors and practices for people who are trying to help someone get an abortion."
Prior to the court's ruling, a poll by Reuters showed about 71% of Americans - including majorities of Democrats and Republicans - believed pregnancy termination should be a patient-doctor decision.
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