A Texas law banning abortion at six weeks, before most people even realize they’re pregnant or have missed a period, officially took effect on Wednesday, Sept. 1, months after Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed it last May.
Roe v. Wade is an awful Supreme Court ruling. Roe and the string of orders that have followed upholding the original don’t even attempt to be strict constitutional law or have a consistent justification for defending abortion rights.
Texas has recently passed a law banning most abortions after about six weeks of pregnancy went into effect on Wednesday, despite the 1973 Supreme Court decision that established a constitutional right to the procedure, making the state the most restrictive in the nation regarding access to abortion and abortion rights.
The Texas law is the first to be implemented. Many other states in the United States have also passed laws similar to this abortion law, but those measures face legal challenges. On a vote of 5-4, the court refused just before midnight Wednesday to try to block this law.
Due to the way the law is written, it may prove difficult to challenge it in court, representing a significant change in the battle over abortion rights and inviting imitation by other jurisdictions seeking to tamp down access to abortion.
Depending on the court’s decision, it will either reaffirm or overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that protects and reestablishes the constitutional right to get an abortion.
If Roe v. Wade is overturned, more states might sign restrictive laws blocking access to abortions. Just in 2021, at the very least, 90 state laws have been passed that restrict access to abortion.
Does this law ban abortions?
This law bars abortions once the cardiac activity has been detected in the embryo, occurring around the sixth week of pregnancy.
That is a very early stage in a pregnancy, and many women aren’t even aware they are pregnant at that point. When a pregnant woman misses her period, she is already four weeks pregnant, as doctors define it.
Under Texas law, a woman would have about only two weeks to recognize her condition, then confirm the pregnancy with a test; the most bizarre part is deciding how to manage the pregnancy in such a short span and finally obtain an abortion.
Many women may not even track their periods carefully and could possibly have irregular cycles or may not know the exact date of the start of their last period, experts noted.
“It is possible and ubiquitous for people to get to the six-week mark and not know they are pregnant,” said Dr Jennifer Villavicencio, lead for equity transformation at the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.
Specifications of the Texas abortion law
The new Texas law bans abortion at six weeks when a fetal “heartbeat” can be detected. The bill makes absolutely no exceptions for pregnancies that have resulted from rape or incest.
At six weeks, most people do not even realize that they are pregnant. Once a person misses their first menstrual period, they may already be considered four weeks pregnant, whether conception occurred four weeks prior.
The law also categorizes abortion after six weeks as a civil violation, not a criminal ban, allowing people to sue anyone who may have helped people get an abortion, such as abortion providers or abortion care advocates. The threat of a lawsuit could push abortion providers to back down.
According to current Texas laws, people need to visit a clinic 24 hours before getting their abortion for an ultrasound and state-mandated counselling. They’d also need to save up enough money to cover the cost of getting an abortion since abortion care isn’t under covered insurance in Texas. The law makes abortion care extremely difficult to access, if not impossible.
Will restrictive laws hold up in court?
The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and a federal district court have both found that the Texas law unconstitutional since Roe v.Wade already protects the constitutional right to an abortion up to a point in pregnancy when a fetus would be viable outside the body, which is around 24 weeks (about five and a half months).
The 15-week abortion ban in Mississippi further restricts access to abortion care in a state where it’s already challenging to get an abortion. If the Mississippi law gets held up in court, it would effectively overturn Roe v. Wade.
In May, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed a law that bans abortion at six weeks before most people even realize they are pregnant or have missed a period. Abortion advocates will have a difficult time challenging the law because of the way it’s written.
The Supreme Court hears a case in Mississippi on the 15-week abortion ban. The ruling will overturn or reaffirm Roe v. Wade, which protects the constitutional right to get an abortion before fetal viability outside the body.