Britt Redden Explains: The New Texas Abortion Law
In 2021, the laws regarding abortion in Texas have changed. This piece will take readers through what is legal and not legal about abortion in the state of Texas. This topic and law change has drawn a lot of media attention due to its controversy. However, this article will address the facts without bias one way or the other.
So, What is the new Texas Abortion Law?
The new law regarding abortion in Texas bans abortions as soon as cardiac activity is detectable, according to Texas Monthly. Cardiac activity, otherwise known as a heartbeat, usually begins around the six-week mark during a woman’s pregnancy. The law known as Texas Senate Bill 8 was passed on May 19th, 2021 and went into effect on September 1st, 2021.
The law allows private citizens to sue abortion providers as well as anyone else who helps a woman get an abortion after this six-week period. Under the new law, individuals can sue abortion providers, individuals who give a woman a ride to the clinic, those who help to finance the procedure, or anyone found to “aid or abet” an illegal abortion. Citizens who file these suits do not need to show any connection to those they are suing, according to NPR.
On the other hand, the law specifically exempts the person getting the abortion from being sued. This law is different because it does not allow public officials to enforce the law. Texas Senate Bill 8 allows individuals to report the crime and bring about civil lawsuits. What’s more, anyone who successfully sues an abortion provider under this law could be awarded at least $10,000.
For example, an organization called Texas Right to Life has set up a “whistleblower” website where individuals can submit anonymous tips about persons they believe to be violating the new Texas abortion law.
“These lawsuits are not against the women,” says John Seago with Texas Right to Life. “The lawsuits would be against the individuals making money off of the abortion, the abortion industry itself…”
The law makes an exception for pregnancies that present danger to the life of the woman getting the abortion. So, a doctor could perform the procedure after detectable cardiac activity if a woman’s pregnancy could lead to “substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function.”
The Supreme Court’s Role
In this case, The United States Supreme Court declined to issue a stay regarding the Texas Senate Bill 8 (the bill which bans abortion after detection of a heartbeat). In 1973, The Supreme Court ruled in favor of protecting a woman’s right to an abortion during the historic Roe v. Wade case. Yet just recently, The Supreme Court signaled they would allow abortion providers and clinics in Texas to pursue a court challenge to the new law, according to AP News.
Abortion Laws in Texas and Around the USA
While other states have tried to create and enforce laws regarding abortion, none have done what Texas legislators have done with the Texas Senate Bill 8. For long, legislators and lobbying groups on each side of the argument have debated. Yet, the difference with the new Texas law is the fact that it does not require public officials to enforce the law and rather allows individuals to bring about civil suits.
In 2020, there were more than 54,000 abortions in the state of Texas, according to estimates from the Guttmacher Institute and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Since the law took effect in September, the number of abortions in Texas dropped by 50% as compared to previous months, according to a study by the University of Texas at Austin. In total, about 888,000 abortions took place across the USA in the year 2019.
It is very difficult to fight alleged illegal abortion charges alone. Call Redden Law Texas today for a consultation!
Britt Redden has a thorough mastery of Texas law. Prior to graduating from SMU Dedman School of Law, Britt was a Student Attorney with the SMU Criminal Justice Clinic where much of her experience focused on representing indigent clients facing criminal charges in Dallas County.
Britt has invaluable experience navigating the courtroom and counseling clients on negotiating plea bargain deals with the client’s individual needs in mind. Now, she uses that knowledge to protect the rights of people in and around Dallas, making sure they receive the strongest possible defense. Britt is an active member of the American Association for Justice, the Texas Criminal Defense Lawyers Association, and Dallas Association Young Lawyers.