FORT WORTH, Texas – Last Wednesday, Lila Rose, the founder of the Live Action Against Abortion group, tweeted euphorically, “It’s a good day in Texas, which is on its way to being abortion-free.”
His statement was hyperbolic, but only slightly.
On September 1, the Texas Fetal Heartbeat Act came into force, exposing anyone to help perform an abortion after detecting the baby’s heartbeat (except for the pregnant woman, which is explicitly protected) to civil liability.
Indeed, this prohibits abortion during the six weeks of pregnancy or later (when most abortions occur), except in cases of medical emergency.
Texas law has not been blocked by the courts, in large part because of its unusual construction.
It relies on private citizens rather than state actors to enforce restrictions on abortion. The legal concept is not new (used in Medicaid fraud cases, for example), but it is unique in this area of the law.
Chelsey Youman, Texas state director of the Human Coalition’s anti-abortion group, says this approach offers a meaningful way for society to be involved in the cause of protecting the innocent life.
But the mechanism also has a practical application.
For years, abortion providers have been able to block conventional attempts to regulate doctors and clinics, such as setting certain standards of care, by cherry selection courts that are willing to find that almost any regulation on the abortion is an undue burden. This usually happens long before even the law is enforced.
But because Texas law authorizes individuals to sue those who “help and incite” an abortion only after one has occurred, it deftly denies opponents of the law any chance of legal success in an appeal. prior to execution. It exposes anyone who has an abortion after the enactment of the law to financial penalties and potentially even the loss of licenses.
That’s why lawmakers have had so much trouble getting a court to stop him and why his bizarre eleven-hour appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court was summarily and rightly dismissed on procedural grounds.
That’s also why the law works effectively.
According to the New York Times, abortion clinics have already seen “drastic falls in patients’ schedules,” while “pregnancy crisis centers, where anti-abortion groups offer pregnancy services, are report phone call and query uploads “.
For opponents of abortion, especially those who have been dedicated for decades to protecting the unborn, seeing the fruits of their labor is a huge and joyful relief.
But the celebration can only be momentary. A great victory requires great responsibility.
And, as the influx of calls to organizations seeking to help women get from crisis pregnancies, and not out of them, suggests, work is already beginning.
There is also good news.
In states like Texas, a broad and often undervalued network of nonprofits, clinics, church groups, and medical professionals have been serving women for years.
Youman said the state now spends $ 100 million on alternative services to abortion, including medical care, counseling and other forms of assistance. The Human Coalition has a network of 2,700 clinics nationwide, surpassing 20: 1 abortion clinics.
And while a strong but missing group of activists who support abortion “call their abortions” proudly and insist that few women, if any, mourn or feel loss after aborting a child, Youman she says three-quarters of the women who entered her group clinics admit that if they had other options or help, they would much rather have unplanned children.
“We seek to understand and love women and their children,” she said.
For these organizations, whose job is to accompany women in crisis and help stabilize their circumstances, the mission (at least in Texas) has become much greater.
If and hopefully, when Roe v. Wade is overturned and abortion regulation is returned to the states, anti-abortion groups will have to redouble their efforts.
They will also have to recalibrate their legal strategy. As even staunch conservatives have pointed out, Texas heartbeat law is far from ideal, especially in a post-Roe context. It does not necessarily have to become the model of other states.
But today it will save the lives of about 150 children in Texas.
This is reason enough to celebrate and remember that this is where the pro-life cause really begins.
Cynthia M. Allen is a columnist for Fort Worth Star-Telegram (cmallenstar-telegram.com)