While over 600 new laws were passed in Texas this month, the long-awaited abortion law has gained seismic momentum and garnered public outrage.
On Wednesday, Gov. Gregg Abbott signed Senate Bill 8 better known as The Texas Heartbeat Act. Now considered the nation’s most extreme abortion laws, the bill prohibits the procedure as early as six weeks, a time where most women are unaware of their pregnancy, according to the Texas Tribune. Here’s the kicker: the bill's private citizen clause leaves the enforcement of the law in the hands of the public, and absolves the state government from accountability in its civil rights violation.
Civilians can collect abortion bounties of at least $10,000 for bringing lawsuits to women seeking the procedure, healthcare providers, transportation services and those providing financial assistance. A lawsuit can also be filed without proof of knowledge of a procedure being conducted, a clause President Joe Biden called “unconstitutional chaos” in a statement Thursday.
"Complete strangers will now be empowered to inject themselves in the most private and personal health decisions faced by women," Biden continues.
On a national front, the Supreme Court voted 5 to 4 on the new law, that the decision wasn’t in favor of the bill, but a refusal to block the act at this time.
“The court’s order is stunning,” Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote in her dissent. “Presented with an application to enjoin a flagrantly unconstitutional law engineered to prohibit women from exercising their constitutional rights and evade judicial scrutiny, a majority of justices have opted to bury their heads in the sand.”
On the other hand, pro-choice advocacy groups, see things differently. John Seago, the legislative director for Texas Right to Life tells NPR, "These lawsuits are not against the women." "The lawsuits would be against the individuals making money off of the abortion, the abortion industry itself. So this is not spying on your neighbor and see if they're having an abortion."
The new act opens the door for lawlessness. A website created by anti-abortion group Texas Right To Life collects anonymous tips from those who are believed to violate the ban. While most providers will comply with the law, this leaves women going an unsafe route or traveling towards other states for the procedure. Moreover, now that the law sparks an interest in other communists states, pro-life activists and groups are coming together to distribute the law outside of Texas.
Pro-choice activists will continue to protest against the new abortion law with a long road in court challenges and hopes for appeal.