Texas’ near-total abortion ban took effect on Wednesday. It is the strictest abortion ban making no exceptions for pregnancies caused by rape since the Supreme Court’s landmark 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade to legalize abortion nationwide. U.S. President Joe Biden expressed strong concerns that the extreme Texas law blatantly violates the constitutional right.
According to The Associated Press on Wednesday, the so-called heartbeat bill passed by the Texas State Legislature in May and signed by Gov. Greg Abbott took effect on Wednesday. The law bans abortion after six weeks into pregnancy, which is when a fetal heartbeat can be detected by medical professionals. “Starting today, every unborn child with a heartbeat will be protected from the ravages of abortion,” Gov. Abbott said on Wednesday.
It is problematic, however, that most women do not know they are pregnant at six weeks. As a result, many people say that banning abortions at six weeks is practically banning all abortions. In addition, the law does not make exceptions for pregnancies caused by rape or incest, which makes it a near-total ban.
Despite such controversies, it isn't easy to take legal actions against the law. With the new law taking effect, the Texas state government took its hands off of crackdown on illegal abortions and allowed private citizens to sue those involved in abortions instead. Hospitals that performed abortions, those who helped them, and even taxi drivers who take someone to an abortion clinic can be all sued. Citizens who launch a successful lawsuit could receive an award of at least $10,000. As the state government does not have executive authorities, filing a lawsuit against it is not feasible.
Reproductive rights advocates filed an emergency appeal with the Supreme Court to block the Texas law, but the court declined in a 5-4 decision on Wednesday. Despite the court’s decision, lawsuits debating the lawfulness of the abortion ban will be pursued, which leaves the possibility to suspend the law. Most states in the U.S. ban abortions about 22 to 24 weeks into pregnancy in accordance with the 1973 decision in 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 Biden in his Wednesday statement. “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.”
Jae-Dong Yu firstname.lastname@example.org