Texas’s Newest (and Most Restrictive) Abortion Law

Kaelyn Sourya, Contributing Writer

In the state of Texas, abortion is now illegal after about six weeks of pregnancy. Texas legislature approved this law, Senate Bill 8 (S.B. 8), prohibiting women from receiving abortions as soon as any cardiac activity is detectable. However, abortion access for women is not the only thing affected; the whistleblower portion of the act affects everyone involved. For example, individuals who drove others to the abortion clinic, to people who provided money for the procedure, have the potential to be sued for at least $10,000. Therefore, S.B. 8 affects a much greater audience than just women: anyone has the risk of being sued with a connection to abortion, and even other states are affected as Texans receive these services elsewhere.

Despite cases such as Roe v. Wade, Texas passed S.B. 8 because lawmakers purposefully made it difficult to challenge in court; the law does not require public officials to be involved in legal action, individual citizens file those lawsuits. The difference between S.B. 8 and previous abortion laws is the authorization of private citizens as bounty hunters to file legal claims against those suspected of violating the law. Texas Right to Life is an anti-abortion-rights organization that created a website for citizens to anonymously reporting people. Another highly restrictive element of S.B. 8 is that it holds no exceptions for rape, sexual abuse, or incest. These characters of the Texas abortion law are so controversial in the media because of the repercussions and similarities to previous cases.

As for current affairs with S.B. 8, media outlets have posted cases about individuals outside of Texas who took legal action. Recently under S.B. 8, a man in Arkansas and a man in Illinois have taken the first legal claims against a Texas abortion provider: physician Dr. Alan Braid. The non-Texan residents stated they took legal action against Dr. Braid because he provided an abortion to a woman with cardiac activity, against the new abortion law. Lawsuits such as these will not be the last of its case, and it is certainly not one of the only cases

surrounding Texas law. The Justice Department filed a lawsuit against S.B. 8 (rather than under it) for the premise that S.B. 8 prohibits women from exercising their constitutional rights. The United States Department of Justice Office of Public Affairs released information on the lawsuit: “The Act is clearly unconstitutional under longstanding Supreme Court precedent. The United States has the authority and responsibility to ensure that no state can deprive individuals of their constitutional rights through a legislative scheme specifically designed to prevent the vindication of those rights,” Attorney General Garland said.

In mid-May, Governor Greg Abbott signed this bill that anti-abortion-rights groups petitioned and approved by other Republican lawmakers. Subsequently, the law went into effect on September 1st, 2021; from there, S.B. 8’s success means that other conservative states will be able to pass similar laws. These newer legal cases surrounding S.B. 8 have shown widespread controversy regarding the law. Except the actions taken against anti-abortion-rights groups, protests against S.B. 8, and overall discongruity will multiply throughout the country if the legislature allows the law to stand.