Supreme Court decision to accept Texas law has pro-choice supporters worried about the strength of cardinal Roe v. Wade case
Texas Senate bill eight, SB8, has been the subject of extreme scrutiny since enacted on Sept. 1. The bill makes it illegal for the termination of pregnancy after six weeks under any circumstance, even in the case of rape or incest.
The bill also allows for private lawsuits against those who break the law. This means private citizens can sue neighbors, family or even strangers they believe have committed a pregnancy termination after six weeks. Medical professionals and anyone who aids in the procedure also become liable for legal action under this law, which gives a $10,000 minimum reward for any successful lawsuit.
According to Planned Parenthood, SB8 is the most restrictive abortion bill to date. The pro-life group, ‘Texas Right to Life’ is credited for being the support needed in order to get the bill through the Texas government and also ran a website initially used for reporting offenders of SB8. The site has since been taken down due to violations of site guidelines and also faced many false reports and hacking by the bill’s opposers.
According to Forbes, 85% of abortions in Texas will be blocked now that the bill is in action.
The ‘Texas Right to Life’ group hopes the law will inspire states across the country to enact similar legislation and continue to avoid legal repercussions.
“We are optimistic that the Texas Heartbeat Act will continue to survive ongoing and future legal attacks against this historic policy,” Kim Schwartz, an author for the group said.
While pro-life supporters celebrate their recent legal victories, pro-choice supporters continue to protest the Supreme Court’s failure to decide against the bill’s constitutional credibility and status when considering Roe v. Wade.
Pro-choice supporters fear that this action will allow other states to follow in the footsteps of Texas and put pro-life supporters one step closer to overturning the influential case of Roe v. Wade.
The Biden administration has recently come out with statements against the decision of the Supreme Court, although little information has come from the Biden administration on how they plan to defend Roe v. Wade.
“This extreme Texas law blatantly violates the constitutional right established under Roe v. Wade and upheld as precedent for nearly half a century,” said President Joe Biden. “My administration is deeply committed to the constitutional right established in Roe v. Wade nearly five decades ago and will protect and defend that right.”
The most action against the law can be seen by Planned Parenthood and its supporters.
“Reproductive rights advocates, including Planned Parenthood, are fighting SB8 in court and are working to stop the abortion ban,” Kendall, an author from Planned Parenthood said. “We’ll keep providing updates as the situation unfolds. We’ll continue to provide quality, essential health care, and we’ll never stop fighting for your right to access the care you need.”
Groups across the country in opposition to SB8 have been working to fundraise for protests against the bill as well as donate to Planned Parenthood, which is accepting donations in order to support citizens in Texas who wish to access their services.
A larger concern surrounding SB8 is the medical professional and client relationship. Many medical professionals are concerned the diction of the bill perpetuates fear and intimidation over professionals who perform termination procedures.
“This is a far larger concern than one area of medicine or an individual’s personal convictions. By creating a pathway for litigation to be used as intimidation, SB8 will dissuade clinicians in the state of Texas from providing patients with the medical care that they need, and will clearly violate the patient-physician relationship,” said Maureen G. Phipps, M.D., chief executive officer of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.
Many opposers of SB8 fear that the lack of important defining legal text will lead to the halt of many clinicians providing termination procedures.
“Clinicians should be able to provide patient-centered, evidence-based care and counsel, and patients should be able to access the care and information they need without fear of retribution. Such legislative interference will ultimately discourage compassionate, skilled clinicians from practicing in the state of Texas, further compromising patient access to care,” Phipps said.
Another fear from the opposition of the bill regarding the lack of legal definitions surrounding the bill’s text is vague information regarding who can be seen as liable for any procedure after the six-week period. One example of this is social workers, who can be sued under the current bills status by just providing information on the procedure.
If a social worker were to provide information to someone who then illegally obtains the termination, they can then be held liable.
“Aiding and abetting is laid out in chapter 7 of the Texas Penal Code, but is quite vague in the context of how that would be applied to a provider or volunteer discussing abortion with a client,” Alison Mohr Boleware, LMSW Government Relations Director National Association of Social Workers Texas Chapter said. “This could criminalize a conversation with someone who asks about abortion or providing a referral to an abortion provider.”
The main concern at this time surrounding many opposers is the lack of key defining text within the bill that they believe creates intimidation and uses fear tactics to halt the services provided by organizations like Planned Parenthood, as well as holding medical professionals and others who give any aid to citizens seeking the procedure liable.
The Supreme Court’s decision to not challenge the bill has also put pressure, under the opposition’s eye, on the influential case, Roe v. Wade. Many fear this legislation’s ability to exist weakens the legislative power the case had once held surrounding abortion and women’s health care.
Supporters of SB8, including the Texas Right for Life group, believe that the lack of defining legislation is important for the bill’s success in future legal battles. The Texas Right for Life group believes that the current bill does not violate the patient-clinician relationship, but instead puts important pressure on the procedure that otherwise would not be maintained.
With so much criticism, many objectors of SB8 do not believe that it will be able to withstand the protest and legal battles to come, but pro-life groups are hopeful that SB8 is here to stay. The Supreme Court’s decision not to act against the bill has many pro-choice supporters worried about what legislation is to come and the strength of the precedent Roe v. Wade set.