A controversial and restrictive new abortion law goes into effect in Texas today due to the Supreme Court’s failure to act on challenges to the law, reports CNN. The new law effectively bans most abortions in the state if the fetus is over 6 weeks old. Six weeks is when a heartbeat is able to first be detected in some cases. However, that timeframe is also before many women know they are pregnant, meaning the legal window for them to have an abortion would already be closed by the time they are aware of the pregnancy.
But the restrictive new law goes even further than limiting the time frame. It also allows any person in the country to bring a civil suit against anyone who helps assist a pregnant person who seeks an abortion in Texas after six weeks. This means a private citizen from, say, Montana, could sue a priest, family friend, or even an Uber driver, for example, if they are believed to be assisting someone seeking an abortion in Texas.
The law went into effect after the Supreme Court failed to rule on emergency requests by those opposing the law.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and other pro-choice and women’s rights activists have launched scathing attacks on the law, with the ACLU tweeting that the law now essentially lets anyone in the country become a “bounty hunter” by allowing them to file suit against anyone who helps a pregnant person in Texas seek an abortion—with the person filing the civil suit receiving $10,000 if the suit is won.
“This is a full-scale assault on patients, our health care providers, and our support systems,” the ACLU tweeted. “This abortion ban is blatantly unconstitutional. We won’t stop fighting until it’s blocked.”
The law doesn’t just allow these lawsuits — it actively encourages private individuals to act as bounty hunters by awarding them at least $10,000 if they are successful.
— ACLU (@ACLU) September 1, 2021