The Latest Texas Abortion Ban Is Bad. Really, Really Bad.

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The Latest Texas Abortion Ban Is Bad. Really, Really Bad.

Rewire News Group Staff

SB 8 would let any random anti-choicer sue abortion providers for damages—as if anti-choice advocates needed any more license to harass health-care workers.

UPDATE, 12:25 p.m. May 19: Republican Gov. Greg Abbott signed SB 8 into law on Wednesday morning. It is scheduled to take effect September 1, and advocates have promised a legal challenge. Abortion remains legal in Texas.

Anti-abortion lawmakers are at it again in Texas. Let’s take a look at what in the cinnamon toast crunch is going on in the state because it’s … not good.

Last week, residents of Lubbock, Texas, voted to pass an ordinance to make the city the largest “sanctuary for the unborn” in the state. What does being a “sanctuary for the unborn” mean, exactly? It means Lubbock voters have tried to criminalize abortion. But the ordinance goes further.

It also criminalizes helping someone get an abortion within the city. That means anyone who drives someone to an appointment, provides information on abortion, or even donates to an abortion fund could be charged with aiding and abetting.

Roe has collapsed and Texas is in chaos.

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There’s more! If you “aided and abetted” an abortion in Lubbock, you could be sued for “emotional distress” by the pregnant person’s family—or by anyone who wants to take you to court. (And while you’d probably win the case, legal battles are expensive.)

This could be devastating for abortion funds and for the city’s Planned Parenthood clinic—which just started offering abortion care last month, in a part of West Texas with no other abortion clinic for 300 miles.

You can read more on all this mess in a Twitter thread by Rewire News Group editor Imani Gandy:

The only good news about the Lubbock ordinance is that there’s a trigger before its criminal penalties can take effect. That means something else would have to happen—like the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade—before Lubbock could enforce this “sanctuary city” nonsense with criminal charges.

Before we proceed further, let’s take a scream break, shall we?

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OK, moving right along. Lubbock isn’t the only abortion story in Texas. Let’s talk about SB 8. SB 8 is a six-week abortion ban—which is technically a near-total abortion ban but functionally a total abortion ban.

This one is really bad.

Six weeks is so early in a pregnancy that most people don’t realize they’re even pregnant—so by the the time they do realize, it is probably going to be too late to have an abortion.

Anti-abortion lawmakers love these six-week bans. But they never survive court challenges because a six-week ban is a pre-viability abortion ban and—we’re going to type this loudly—PRE-VIABILITY ABORTION BANS ARE UNCONSTITUTIONAL.

SB 8 is different, though. Most six-week bans give power to the state to enforce, but SB 8 gives individuals the power to sue abortion providers. Lawmakers crafted the bill this way in hopes that it will survive legal challenges that other six-week bans haven’t.

Basically, they know the state can’t enforce an unconstitutional abortion ban like this, so they want to try letting random anti-choicers sue for private damages (just like in Lubbock). For a great explainer of what that means, see this thread by Andrea Grimes:

It is nothing short of a green light to legally harass abortion providers. As if anti-choice advocates needed any more license to do so. But we digress.

On Thursday, SB 8 moved one step closer to heading to Gov. Greg Abbott, who’s tweeted, “I look forward to signing it.”

The law will take effect September 1 if the courts don’t block it first. Advocates have promised a legal challenge.

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“What happens in Texas does not stay in Texas,” Yamani Hernandez, executive director of the National Network of Abortion Funds, said in a statement. “Texas is a testing ground for catastrophic anti-abortion bills, and anti-abortion extremists and legislators across the country are watching this fight.”

Unluckily for those lawmakers, we’ll be watching too, by keeping an eye on every maneuver these pesky anti-abortion zealots make in their quest to decimate access.

This post was adapted from a Twitter thread.