Texas Cracks Down on Abortion Laws

Image provided through the Creative Commons License via Google.

Image provided through the Creative Commons License via Google.

Gigi Hanner

On September 1st, the Texas Heartbeat took effect. Governor Greg Abbott had signed this bill into law on May 19th, 2021, after it was introduced on March 11th. This bill is the first six-week abortion ban in the United States and has stirred up controversy around the country.

With this bill, any person who provides abortion care after the six-week mark can be sued. Patients may not necessarily be sued, but those who help or aid could be. Doctors, lawyers, and even taxi drivers who drive someone to receive abortion care can be punished. The six-week mark in a pregnancy is when a fetal heartbeat can typically begin to be detected. This mark is controversial because most women do not yet know about their pregnancy at that point. 

This bill is also unique because it relies on private individuals to enforce it. This is done through civil lawsuits rather than criminal enforcement through the state. A pro-life organization called Texas Right to Life created a whistle-blower reporting system via their website, but this website was taken down for terms of service violations, and other attempts to recreate it was met with cyber attacks. 

Companies such as Lyft, Tinder, and Bumble, have released statements saying how they would help women suffering under this bill, by covering legal costs or establishing relief funds. 

Although abortions can be provided if there is a medical emergency, the bill does not provide exceptions for victims of rape or incest, though Governor Abbott did say Texas would strive to remove all rapists from the streets.

Democratic politicians have expressed anger over the bill, with President Biden calling it extreme and saying it violated Roe v. Wade. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez expressed outrage by saying that six weeks is far too early, and that if a woman has missed her period due to a pregnancy, that it would only be two weeks late. Ocasio-Cortex continued by mentioning that a period two weeks late may not alert women to see if they are pregnant, because it could also be caused by stress or diet.

This bill has been causing distress among many women across the country, but it is still in effect in Texas now. Pro-life groups are very supportive of the bill, and other states, including Indiana, have begun looking to move in similar directions to Texas.