A law banning abortion after six weeks into a pregnancy has come into effect in Texas.
The Heartbeat Bill was one of more than 600 new bills that became effective in the state Wednesday after Governor Greg Abbott signed them into law.
An emergency request by abortion and women’s health providers for an injunction on enforcement of the ban was turned down by the U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday by a 5-4 vote.
This far-reaching verdict on reproductive health effectively bans abortion for the nearly 7 million Texans of reproductive age.
The law awards at least $10,000 for a lawsuit that successfully blocks a pregnant person from getting an abortion in Texas.
Texas is the latest state to implement a ban on terminating pregnancy since the Supreme Court legalized abortion nationwide in a landmark ruling in the Roe v. Wade case in 1973.
The Supreme Court is set to hear arguments later this year in a case that challenges Mississippi’s ban on abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy. Mississippi has asked the Supreme Court to overrule Roe v. Wade.
Opponents of the law argue that patients in Texas will now be forced to travel out-of-state or carry their pregnancy to term against their will.
Vehemently criticizing the development, President Joe Biden said, “This extreme Texas law blatantly violates the constitutional right established under Roe v. Wade and upheld as precedent for nearly half a century.”
The Texas law will significantly impair women’s access to the health care they need, particularly for communities of color and individuals with low incomes, in his opinion.
“It deputizes private citizens to bring lawsuits against anyone who they believe has helped another person get an abortion, which might even include family members, health care workers, front desk staff at a health care clinic, or strangers with no connection to the individual,” Biden said in a statement.
Vice President Kamala Harris said that this law will dramatically reduce access to reproductive care for women in Texas, particularly for women with low incomes and women of color.
“It also includes a disturbing provision that incentivizes private citizens to sue anyone who assists another person in receiving an abortion,” she noted.
Harris added, “The Biden-Harris Administration will always fight to protect access to healthcare and defend a woman’s right to make decisions about her body and determine her future.”
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