The Texas Republican governor Greg Abbott has signed into law one of the most extreme six-week abortion bans in the US.
“This bill ensures that every unborn child who has a heartbeat will be saved from the ravages of abortion,” said Abbott.
Senate Bill 8 bars abortion at six weeks of pregnancy with no exception for rape or incest, a near-total ban as most women are not aware they are pregnant at this stage.
Any individual can sue anyone who “aids or abets” abortion care. “This law is so broadly written it could target not just abortion clinics and staff but anyone that volunteers or donates to an abortion fund or activist organization like ours,” says Aimee Arrambide “Domestic violence and rape crisis counselors who offer guidance, family members who lend money to abortion patients, a friend who gives a ride to an appointment, or even someone that provides an address to a clinic could also face lawsuits.”
In response to concerns over the potential for a rapist to sue his victim’s abortion provider, the legislature passed an amendment that exempts rapists and those who commit incest from taking legal action. However, it only applies to those convicted of rape. Since 91% of women in Texas do not report rape to the police and the small number of those who do rarely see their abuser convicted, the amendment largely failed to allay fears.
Furthermore, the law does nothing to prevent someone associated with a rapist, like a friend or family member, from suing his victim.
“This bill empowers rapists and abusers,” said Representative Donna Howard “And this forced pregnancy act will drive women back into the [pre-Roe] shadows out of fear of harassment through lawsuits that anyone in this country can file.”