Texas Abortion Ban Updates

In August, we covered the Texas abortion ban signed by Governor Greg Abbott. Since then, there have been several motions against it and a statement from Supreme Court. Let’s take a look.

SB 8 Recap

Senate Bill 8 is the most restrictive anti-abortion law in American history. According to the Governor and other supporters of SB 8, the law will ban abortions in Texas to protect unborn life.

The law places a ban on abortion procedures, including medical procedures that use technology or methods associated with abortion. Contrary to popular belief, the law does not criminalize abortions, but it creates serious penalties for healthcare providers who administer them.

In other words, the legal heat for abortions will not be on the mother but the doctor. Doctors, nurses, physicians assistants, nurse practitioners, and other medical staff members who facilitate an abortion will be held liable and face the consequences in civil court.

SB 8 also includes a unique clause that gives Texans the power to report abortions to an online forum in exchange for a $10,000 reward. Essentially, this means that there is a “bounty” for anyone associated with an abortion.

Additionally, anyone who aids a mother in getting an abortion will face the same penalties listed above. That includes Uber drivers, neighbors, friends, and family members.

It’s also important to note that SB 8 makes abortions illegal after six weeks when the heartbeat can be heard. This complicates the issue for many women because few women are aware of the pregnancy that early on.

Supreme Court Decision

At this point, the Supreme Court’s stance on SB 8 is a little murky. So far, they have agreed to uphold the law but also hear the cases against it. This means that the Supreme Court won’t stop the law from taking effect, but civil suits and other arguments against it are still relevant and will be heard.

As mentioned in our August blog on this matter, the tricky part of this law is the fact that the enforcement of it is the citizen’s responsibility. The law deputizes the general public and enables them to make decisions regarding the prosecution of people who aid or abet an abortion.

This makes fighting against the bill complicated because the public is responsible for it – not the legislators. However, that’s not stopping two groups from challenging the law.

Challengers

The Whole Woman Health and Family Center and the U.S. Department of Justice have made formal complaints against SB 8, which the Supreme Court will hear in November.

Whole Woman Health and Family Center has challenged this law before, but now their case has been allowed to stand in court with one condition. The Court will hear their case, but only the part that specifically addresses the enablement of the public to report and penalize people.

Supreme Court Justices will determine whether it is constitutional to delegate enforcement to the general public, but they will not address the constitutionality of Roe v. Wade.

The Supreme Court will also hear an appeal from the Department of Justice in the next few months. In this case, Judge Pitman, the district court judge, argues that the six-week ban is unconstitutional under the current Supreme Court’s precedent.

Essentially, Judge Pitman says that before SB 8, the Court ruled it unconstitutional to ban abortions as early as six weeks which set a precedent for future cases, including this one. Judge Pitman’s motion paused enforcement of SB 8 for now, but that could change.

What to Expect In the Next Few Months

At this point, it’s impossible to say what will happen with SB 8. The Supreme Court has already surprised most Americans by upholding the legality of the law. However, that doesn’t remove the possibility of an appeal in the future.

The Law Office of Shane Phelps, P.C., will continue to stay updated on SB 8.

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