The law in Texas represents the most extreme abortion regulation in the country, though many other red states may be soon to follow.
On Sep. 1, after a 5 to 4 Supreme Court ruling declined to block it, Senate Bill 8 went into effect in Texas. The law, now seen as the most restrictive abortion law in the nation, prevents almost all abortions taking place more than six weeks after the last menstrual cycle, when many pregnant people aren’t even aware of their pregnancy.
The bill does not have exceptions for rape or incest. In response to those who believe rape should carry an exception, Texas Governor Greg Abbott has claimed that Texas will “eliminate all rapists” to handle the problem. Rather than counting from the time of conception, pregnancies are tracked beginning with the last menstrual cycle.
This means if a missed period was someone’s pregnancy signal, they really only have about two weeks to get an abortion.
The law was seen as a major victory by pro-life advocacy groups like Texas Right to Life. This advocacy group also started a site for users to report illegal abortions, though the site was shut down after being spammed with fake reports from pro-choice activists.
President Biden has been critical of both the law and the Supreme Court’s allowance of it, calling the law an “unprecedented assault on a woman’s constitutional rights.” On Sep. 9, the Biden administration announced it would be challenging the law through a lawsuit from the Department of Justice. Attorney General Merrick Garland called Texas’ new law “clearly unconstitutional.”
In Oklahoma, similar bills are have recently been signed by Governor Stitt, who claims to be “the most pro-life governor in the country.” The Governor has also stated his intention to “sign every piece of prolife legislation that came across [his] desk.” These bills have not yet come into effect, so abortion is still more accessible in Oklahoma than in Texas. After Texas’ restriction passed, abortion clinics noted an uptick in patients from Texas.
One of these bills, House Bill 1102, would effectively ban all abortion unless the pregnancy threatened the life of the mother. This may be unenforceable under the Supreme Court ruling in the Roe v. Wade case, though the conservative-leaning makeup of the Court may overrule this decision.
Five bills that are all set to take effect on Sep. 1, including H.B. 1102, have all been challenged by various reproductive rights advocacy groups. The lawsuit claims the laws are unconstitutional. The bills also include a certification requirement for doctors performing abortions and a bill declaring
abortions after a heartbeat is detected to be homicides.
This “heartbeat” bill is essentially the same as the bill passed in Texas. Now that the Supreme Court has given the go-ahead for these restrictions, many Republican leaning states will likely push their versions into law. If the Biden administration’s lawsuit fails, the only other route for pro-choice
Democrats may be drastic Supreme Court reform.