These are the words of protestors yesterday as the Texas governor signs into law bill banning abortions at six weeks. Demonstrators gathered in front of the Governor’s Mansion in Austin to protest against Senate Bill 8, an anti-abortion bill that governor Greg Abbott signed into law yesterday. Governor Greg Abbott signed into law Wednesday a measure that would prohibit in Texas abortions as early as six weeks “before some women know they are pregnant” and open the door for almost any private citizen to sue abortion providers and others.
The signing of the bill opens a new frontier in the battle over abortion restrictions as first-of-its-kind legal provisions intended to make the law harder to block are poised to be tested in the courts. Abortion rights advocates have promised to challenge the new law, which they consider one of the most extreme nationwide and the strictest in Texas . It would amount to an outright ban on abortions, as the six-week cutoff is two weeks after a missed menstrual cycle, opponents say. The law takes effect in September.
The Texas bill known as S.B. 8, described as a “heartbeat ban” abortion measure, prohibits the procedure the moment a fetal heartbeat has been detected. By banning abortion after the six-week mark, many women in Texas who are not even aware they are pregnant will not be allowed to get the procedure done in the state. The bill, which goes into effect Sept. 1, does not include exceptions for women impregnated as a result of rape or incest, but offers a provision for medical emergencies.Abbott, who had publicly offered his support of the bill, celebrated what he deemed a victory for Texans while surrounded by Republicans gathered to watch him sign the proposal in Austin: “The heartbeat bill is now law in the Lone Star State.” “Our creator endowed us with the right to life and yet millions of children lose their right to life every year because of abortion,” Abbott said at a closed-door ceremony. “In Texas, we work to save those lives. That’s exactly what the Texas Legislature did this session.”
The move, which makes Texas the largest state to ban abortion so early in a pregnancy, comes at a crucial time in the efforts of conservatives attempting to chip away at overturning the landmark 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade. The Supreme Court announced this week that it will review a restrictive Mississippi law that bans most abortions after 15 weeks, potentially providing a clear path to diminish Roe v. Wade’s guaranteeof a woman’s right to choose an abortion. Mississippi and Texas are among many Republican-led states to have passed restrictions conflicting with the court’s precedents protecting abortion rights, hoping for a chance to get a case before a Supreme Court they believe is more amenable to their arguments.
In accepting the case for next term, the Supreme Court said Monday that it would examine whether “all pre-viability prohibitions on elective abortions are unconstitutional.” Abortion has been legal in Texas up to 20 weeks. A procedure after 16 weeks must be done at a hospital or ambulatory surgical center.