What banning abortion at 6 weeks really means

“On September 1, nearly all abortions became illegal in Texas.

A state law signed by Gov. Greg Abbott earlier this year bans abortions as soon as a fetal heartbeat can be detected. That’s as early as six weeks’ gestation, before many people know they are pregnant, making the bill a near-total ban on the procedure.

Earlier this week, abortion providers asked the Supreme Court to stop the ban from going into effect while legal cases continue. But the justices did not take action, allowing the six-week ban, which contains no exceptions for cases of rape or incest, to become the law of the land in Texas.

So-called heartbeat bills like Texas’s are not new. At least eight have passed in recent years, with a raft of states enacting the bans in 2019. But until the Texas law, no heartbeat bills have gone into effect — they have faced court challenges since they run directly counter to Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 decision that established the right to an abortion in America.”

“the Texas bill was intentionally written to prevent courts from blocking it before it takes effect. Rather than having state officials enforce the abortion ban, the bill essentially empowers private citizens to do so by suing abortion providers, according to the Texas Tribune. This unusual provision makes it harder for abortion-rights groups to sue state officials to block the law, since they aren’t technically the ones who will enforce it.

Regardless, legal challenges to the Texas law remain ongoing, and it could still be struck down. But for now, abortion providers in Texas say they will abide by the law, and most Texans will likely need to travel out of state for an abortion — if they can afford to do so.”


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