05.13.2021 – (PRESS RELEASE) Today, the Texas Senate passed a bill banning abortion as early as six-weeks of pregnancy—before many people even know they are pregnant. The bill also allows anyone – from local anti-abortion protestors to out-of-state lobbying groups – to sue Texans for providing abortion care or helping others access abortion after six weeks of gestation. Almost anyone could be sued, including: a person who drives their friend to a clinic; abortion funds providing financial assistance to patients; any clinic employees, even front desk staff. The bill will now be sent to Gov. Greg Abbott to be signed into law. It is scheduled to take effect September 1, 2021.
“Texas has now joined the new wave of extreme abortion bans passed this year across the U.S.,” said Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights. “This bill essentially opens the floodgates to allow anyone who is hostile to abortion to sue doctors and clinics, consuming their resources and forcing them to shut down. We will pursue all legal options to prevent this law from taking effect.”
“Every year, Texas lawmakers pass laws that make it harder for our patients to access abortion care, and harder for us to provide it,” said Amy Hagstrom Miller, CEO of Whole Woman’s Health, which operates four clinics in Texas. “They are determined to legislate abortion out of existence. We see firsthand that Black and brown communities are hit the hardest by these oppressive laws and we know these laws do not reflect the values Texans hold. Our clinics are open, and we are committed to providing compassionate, professional abortion care in Texas.”
Under the law, anyone who successfully sues another person for providing abortion care or for “aiding and abetting” a patient would be awarded $10,000 per person they sued. More than 370 licensed Texas attorneys have signed an open letter to House Speaker, Dade Phelan and other House members strongly urging them to oppose the bill. More than 200 Texas Physicians also sent an open letter in strong opposition.
Numerous other severe abortion restrictions are currently working their way through the Texas legislature, including bills that would:
- Create a database of people who have had abortions
- Limit medication abortion to 49 days of pregnancy (before some people know they’re pregnant)
- Create a “trigger ban” intended to ban abortion entirely if Roe v. Wade is overturned
- Prohibit abortion based on a patient’s reason for seeking it, such as a Down syndrome diagnosis
- Require Texans to carry non-viable pregnancies to term
Eight other U.S. states have enacted similar six-week bans, and all have been blocked by courts. Despite these laws being continuously struck down, 13 states introduced similar laws this year.
Texas is one of many states that has introduced a slew of abortion restrictions this year. So far, more than 536 new abortion restrictions have been introduced across state legislatures in 2021. Of those, 61 have been enacted, putting 2021 on track to be the most damaging state legislative session for abortion in decades.
Center for Reproductive Rights: [email protected]