The Supreme Court's 5-3 decision overturning Texas abortion laws will have far reaching effects beyond just Texas.
MSN News/New York Times: Abortion Ruling Could Create Waves of Legal Challenges
"It will certainly prevent the threatened shutdown of clinics in some states, especially in the Deep South, that have been operating in a legal limbo, with Texas-style laws on temporary hold. But legal experts said the effect over time is likely to be wider, potentially giving momentum to dozens of legal challenges, including to laws that restrict abortions with medication or ban certain surgical methods.
“The ruling deals a crushing blow to this most recent wave of state efforts to shut off access to abortion through hyper-regulation,” said Suzanne B. Goldberg, the director of the Center for Gender and Sexuality Law at Columbia Law School."
The ruling does have major significance, almost as much as the original Roe vs Wade decision of 1973. It will be interesting to see how this evolves, particularly in the current political discourse. Republicans no doubt will use it to emphasize the importance of getting an anti-abortionist on the Supreme Court. Democrats will do the opposite.
No matter, Justice Kennedy was the swing vote. Even if Justice Scalia was still alive, the vote would have still gone against Texas.
Although the Supreme Court overturned the Texas law shown above, legislators found a sneaky way around the ban by creating a bounty system involving ordinary citizens.
Planned Parenthood sent out a long letter yesterday explaining why this is so dangerous.
There's been a lot of confusion and misinformation about S.B. 8, the new extreme abortion ban set to take effect in Texas tomorrow unless the Supreme Court intervenes.
We all need to understand exactly why S.B. 8 is so dangerous before we can fight against it and similar attacks on our rights in other states.
Check out the quick FAQ below, and then sign your name to say you'll stand with Planned Parenthood and do whatever you can to defend abortion access in Texas and beyond.
What does it mean to ban abortion at six weeks?
S.B. 8 — and similar bans in other states — make it illegal for someone to get an abortion if they are more than six weeks pregnant.
Many people will not know they are pregnant by six weeks. Even those who do would have an extremely narrow window of time to comply with this cruel law. A person would need to quickly consider their options: consult with a doctor and other trusted people in their life, find a provider, schedule an appointment, receive a state-mandated in-person “counseling” session, and get an abortion — all in just a couple of weeks. For most people, S.B. 8 is a complete and total ban on abortion.
Does S.B. 8 include exceptions for cases of rape or incest?
No. Not to mention, this ban is especially dangerous since Texas also requires parental consent and notification for minors seeking abortion. That notice and consent must also occur within that “six-week” window.
What does the “bounty” provision mean? Is it true that it rewards people who sue others for “aiding and abetting” an abortion?
Texas is the first state to empower private citizens to enforce an abortion ban. Under this law, anyone, anywhere in the United States, can sue a person who helps a patient access abortion in Texas after six weeks. There is no other state with a ban similar to this.
The law awards at least $10,000 for every successful lawsuit against anyone who helps a person access abortion after six weeks: friends, family, doctors. Anti-abortion activists have already established “tip lines” to solicit accusations to bully and intimidate patients out of the care they need.
Who is allowed to sue people who help others get an abortion?
The Texas law lets any private individual use the courts to try to block abortion access. An abusive partner can sue an abortion provider — or anyone else who helps an abortion patient — and be awarded thousands of dollars if they succeed. A controlling parent, a local pastor, a random stranger, even a paid anti-abortion activist can take advantage of this legal authority to try to block Texans from getting the health care they need, and reap the rewards.
Who can be sued?
Lawsuits could target a doctor, friend of a person seeking abortion, health center, nonprofit group (such as an abortion fund), or anyone else who helps assists a patient get a safe, constitutionally protected abortion after six weeks of pregnancy.
This law seems clearly unconstitutional. Won't the courts stop it? How is the Supreme Court involved?
We are suing in federal court to block this law, but so far, it is scheduled to take effect tomorrow. Every day that the federal courts allow this law to stand is a direct assault on our health and rights, and a threat to abortion access nationwide.
Yesterday, we asked the U.S. Supreme Court to step in to protect access to abortion in Texas. If the Supreme Court does not intervene, Texas's abortion ban will go into effect on Wednesday.
Separately, the Supreme Court is already set to hear arguments in a different case concerning Mississippi's 15-week abortion ban. Missisissippi has outright asked the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v Wade. If it succeeds, and if this Texas law goes into effect, abortion access will be radically altered for generations to come.
What is Planned Parenthood doing to protect patients in Texas?
The river and the state are spelled the same.
Let's be clear: Planned Parenthood is not alone in this fight. We have joined a coalition that includes the Center for Reproductive Rights, the Lawyering Project, and the ACLU to file a lawsuit to block S.B. 8. And we are working with advocates, organizers, patients, doctors, and community groups on the ground to provide direct support for patients.
Supporting patients in this moment includes making sure they know the law and their options, and helping patients with travel and other assistance if they need to seek an abortion out of state.
Planned Parenthood will never stop working to protect reproductive health and rights. We will not turn our backs on patients — not in Texas, not anywhere. You can help by forwarding this message and sharing these facts with people you know.
You can sign your name to say that you're willing to do whatever you can to help protect abortion access in Texas and everywhere it's under attack. We need you with us, Thomas.
We'll keep you informed in the days and weeks ahead as this situation unfolds in the courts and on the ground in Texas. Thank you, as always, for standing with patients.