Texas’ new abortion ban bill, S.B. 8, is effective Sept. 1 prohibits abortions once any cardiac activity is found — making Texas the state with the most restrictive abortion law.
Cardiac activity is typically found after 6 weeks of pregnancy, and most women only miss their period after 4 weeks, which leaves very little time to find out about the pregnancy and to make a decision on abortion. Katherine Krashel, a lecturer at Yale Law School, reported to 19thnews that “That would be if the pregnancy test was taken the day they missed their period and assuming they have a four-week menstrual cycle.”
Roe v. Wade — the landmark 1973 court case — allowed abortion up until 24 weeks of pregnancy. According to The New York Times, 85% of women who seek abortions are more than 6 weeks pregnant. Instead of completely abolishing abortions, which would violate Roe V. Wade, this law is still able to restrict abortions nearly entirely without directly stating that they are not allowed.
Pro-lifers consider this law to be a major victory on their path to reducing, or even eliminating abortion. Texas Right to Life made a statement to the Texas Tribune, describing their joy over the bill, stating, “Texas Right to Life reminds our elected officials of their solemn duty to protect the lives of their citizens, especially the most vulnerable and innocent Texans in the womb. The signing of the Texas Heartbeat Act marks a historic step in the battle to protect Life.”
When Texas Republican Governor Gregg Abbott was asked about how this law will impact the lives of other citizens, specifically victims of rape, he claimed to CNN that “Texas will work tirelessly to make sure we eliminate all rapists from the streets of Texas by aggressively going out and arresting them.”
The statement made by the Governor about eliminating all rape would realistically be impossible, and according to an NPR study, 1 in 3 rapes go unreported. Since there is such a high percentage of unreported cases, the elimination of rape would never occur due to many of the cases being unknown. Even if rape were to be eliminated, victims in Texas will have no resources in the meantime if they are raped. Governor Abbott made this claim in order to steer the question away from how this law will help victims of rape, because the law denies most, if not all, protection for citizens who need an abortion. Instead of having an explanation as to how this law helps victims, he made a claim that would be simply impossible to do.
On top of the 6-week restriction, another aspect of the law makes it even more difficult for an abortion to be performed. According to the Texas Tribune, “anyone can sue anyone who performs, aids or intends to aid in an abortion — regardless of whether they have a personal stake in the abortion performed.”
As reported by The Market Watch, The law states that a person can sue anyone involved in the abortion for $10,000, and that the money damages could be even more than $10,000, depending on the number of defendants there are. The lawsuit can range from the doctor down to the person who drove the patient seeking an abortion to a clinic.
When discussing the S.B. 8 in Texas, President Biden told The Guardian, “This extreme Texas law blatantly violates the constitutional right established under Roe v. Wade and upheld as a precedent for nearly half a century.”
If Roe v. Wade were to be overturned, some states would be impacted almost immediately, while other states would remain unaffected. According to The New York Times, if Roe v. Wade were to be overturned, 22 states would likely ban abortion. States such as California, as well as 13 other states, would be unlikely to have any changes in their abortion laws.