AUSTIN, Texas – A Texas law banning most abortions in the state went into effect at midnight, but the Supreme Court has yet to act on an emergency appeal to suspend the law.
If allowed to remain in force, the law would be the most dramatic restriction on abortion rights in the United States since Roe v. Wade’s high court decision legalized nationwide abortion in 1973. .
Texas law, signed by Republican Gov. Greg Abbott in May, would prohibit abortions once fetal heartbeats could be detected, usually around six weeks and even before most women know they are pregnant.
Abortion providers asking the Supreme Court to intervene said the law would rule out 85% of abortions in Texas and force many clinics to close. Planned Parenthood is among the abortion providers who have stopped scheduling abortions after six weeks since conception.
At least 12 other states have enacted a ban on abortion in early pregnancy, but all have been barred from entering into force.
FILE: Protesters hold placards as they march along Congress Ave in a protest in front of the Texas State Capitol on May 29, 2021, in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Sergio Flores / Getty Images)
What makes Texas law different is its unusual scheme of application. Instead of having officials responsible for enforcing the law, private citizens are allowed to sue abortion providers and anyone involved in facilitating abortions. Among other situations, it would include anyone who drives a woman to a clinic to have an abortion. By law, anyone who successfully sues another person would be entitled to at least $ 10,000.
Opponents of abortion who wrote the law also made it difficult to challenge the law in court, in part because it is difficult to know who to sue.
Texas has long had some of the nation’s toughest abortion restrictions, including a general law passed in 2013 that the Supreme Court ended in defeat, but not before they closed more than half of the more than 40 state abortion clinics.
Lawmakers are also moving forward in an ongoing special session in Texas with proposed new restrictions on drug abortion, a method that uses pills that accounts for approximately 40% of abortions in the U.S.
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