Conservative Texas lawmakers achieved what they had been trying for many years: the legalization of abortion.
After being approved earlier in the year, a bill prohibiting abortion was passed at midnight Sept. 1. It came into effect on September 1, after it had been detected by lawmakers as a “fetal heartbeat”. This occurs often as early as six weeks before the due date. Medical experts say this framing falsely portrays electrical activity in cardiac cells as evidence of viability. The legislation does not penalize anyone who has an abortion. However, the law encourages vigilanteism and awards at least $10,000 legal damages to private citizens who sue someone who “aids/abetts” abortions that occur beyond the prescribed time frame.
Five years after striking down a Texas abortion law, the Supreme Court declined to stop it from becoming effective. The Supreme Court’s 2016 5-3 decision was based on the former Justice Anthony Kennedy. The court has become majority-conservative following his retirement and the appointment three conservative judges under the Trump administration (including Justice Brett Kavanaugh).
Justice Sonia Sotomayor was appointed by President Obama and wrote in her dissension that the bill was “clearly not constitutional”. “
She said that “a majority of Justices chose to bury themselves in the sand.”
“In essence, Texas Legislature deputized citizens of the State to be bounty hunters and offered them cash prizes in civil prosecutions for their neighbor’s medical procedure.”
The ban prompted outrage and calls to donate to abortion funds, which use contributions to help those seeking an abortion receive medical care. This can cover the entire procedure, as well as related costs such childcare and transportation. Patients who are located hundreds or even thousands of miles away from an abortion center need this support. Funds may also direct donations toward public policy advocacy. There are 10 such funds in Texas, according to the National Network of Abortion Funds. An ActBlue fundraiser is splitting contributions evenly between those groups.
Geoffrey R. Stone is the Edward H. Levi Distinguished Services Professor at University of Chicago. He was an expert on abortion rights and said that it’s legal to give money to an abortion fund as long as the funds are used only to obtain care in Texas before the detection of heart activity. It’s likely that Texans won’t be able access abortion care because most women don’t know their pregnancy status until six weeks after the date of birth.
“[The bill] absolutely devastates people seeking abortion care as the vast majority of Texans…will have to now travel out of state,” says Neesha Dave, deputy director of Lilith Fund, an abortion fund in Texas that manages a website with information about how to find abortion care.
Dave claims that the cost of abortion will rise as a consequence. During the pandemic, when Texas temporarily banned abortion as an “elective” medical procedure, one Lilith Fund client traveled as far as Seattle for an abortion. Clients will often travel to states closer to them, such as New Mexico and Colorado. However, it is not clear how the increased demand from outside of Texas will affect abortion services. Dave reports that Lilith Fund received 1,300 additional donations since the law was passed.
Dave says that the legislation makes abortion funds an easy target for bounty hunters who want to collect a financial reward for identifying people who are violating Texas law.
Dave says that even though we all adhere to Senate Bill 8 to our best efforts, and we take great care not to violate it, SB8 incentivizes and encourages anti-abortion vigilantes, to sue us regardless.” They don’t need to show that they have broken the law to sue us. We will be defending ourselves.
Donations to the Lilith Fund and other funds for abortion may also be used to help those in legal fights.
Publiated at Thu, 02/09/2021 @ 19:04:04 +0000