Greg Abbott, the Republican Governor of Texas, has officially signed a law about abortion that will stop Texas clinics from performing or inducing abortions at all once a fetal heartbeat has been detected, and opens up the abortion providers themselves to lawsuits for infractions.
As reported by The Texas Tribune, this new law has a “first-of-its-kind legal provision” that lets its private citizens issue and file civil suits against abortion clinics over any alleged violations, instead of relying on the state itself to try and enforce the ban. The new bill is set to go into effect in September.
“It’s a very unique law and it’s a very clever law,” stated Josh Blackman, a constitutional law professor at South Texas College of Law Houston, to the Tribune. “Planned Parenthood can’t go to court and sue Attorney General [Ken] Paxton like they usually would because he has no role in enforcing the statute. They have to basically sit and wait to be sued.”
A large group consisting of more than 200 physicians took part in an open letter that voiced their opposition to the bill this past month by stating it would open them up to “frivolous lawsuits,” reported Reuters. “Regardless of our personal beliefs about abortion, as licensed physicians in Texas, we implore you to not weaponize the judicial branch against us to make a political point,” the doctors wrote.
Under this new law, that formally called Texas Bill SB-8, physicians must go through testing procedures for a fetal heartbeat before an abortion can take place and “may not knowingly perform or induce an abortion on a pregnant woman if the physician detected a fetal heartbeat for the unborn child.”
This past Wednesday, Abbott stated that the new abortion law will ensure “the life of every unborn child who has a heartbeat will be saved from the ravages of abortion.”
“Our creator endowed us with the right to life and yet millions of children lose their right to life every year because of abortion. In Texas, we work to save those lives, and that’s exactly what the Texas legislature did this session. They worked together on a bipartisan basis to pass a bill,” stated Abbott at the bill signing event.
Under the text of this new law, exceptions to this abortion ban are allowed then the physician makes the determination that a “medical emergency exists.” When these specific cases arise, “the physician who performs or induces the abortion shall execute a written document that certifies the abortion is necessary due to a medical emergency and specifies the woman ’s medical condition requiring the abortion.”
Advocacy manager at Progress Texas, Diana Gómez, stated to CNN that the law “contains some of the most extreme abortion restrictions in the country.”
In a tweet, the Planned Parenthood Action Fund has issued the statement that the law was “dangerous” and stated that it would fight it.
This law won’t go into effect until September — and we will fight back with everything we have to keep that from happening. Remember: Abortion remains safe and legal in all 50 states, and we will do everything in our power to keep it that way.
— Planned Parenthood Action (@PPact) May 19, 2021