The way the bill is structured incentivizes vigilante lawsuits that will harass abortion providers and those who support providing abortions in Texas. — Adriana Piñon, an attorney at the Texas chapter of ACLU
The way the bill is structured incentivizes vigilante lawsuits that will harass abortion providers and those who support providing abortions in Texas. — Adriana Piñon, an attorney at the Texas chapter of ACLU
Texas' 6-week abortion ban lets private citizens sue in an unprecedented legal approach
The measure -- signed into law by Republican Gov. Greg Abbott in May -- prohibits abortion providers from conducting abortions once a fetal heartbeat is detected. It would effectively outlaw at least 85% of the abortions sought in the state, according to opponents of the law, since that point is around six weeks into the pregnancy, before some women know they're pregnant.

The law took effect early Wednesday morning after the Supreme Court and a federal appeals court did not rule on attempts to block it.

It was passed amid a slew of restrictions that were approved by GOP legislatures across the country this year, after the confirmation of Justice Amy Coney Barrett jerked the Supreme Court further to right and made it more likely that the court will scale back or reverse entirely Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 decision that enshrined a constitutional right to an abortion before the fetus is viable.

But among those restrictions, the Texas bill stands out for the novel approach it takes in curtailing the procedure.

Rather than imposing a criminal or regulatory punishment for those who conduct abortions after the point in the pregnancy, the state law created a so-called "private right of action" to enforce the restriction. Essentially, the legislature deputized private citizens to bring civil litigation -- with the threat of $10,000 or more in damages -- against providers or even anyone who helped a woman access an abortion after six weeks.

"The way the bill is structured incentivizes vigilante lawsuits that will harass abortion providers and those who support providing abortions in Texas," Adriana Piñon, an attorney at the Texas chapter of ACLU, told CNN.

... Abortion rights advocates say that the effect of the law will fall disproportionately on lower income people who won't be able to travel out of state to receive the procedure.


The average distance an abortion patient will have to travel once the law goes into effect will grow from 12 miles to 248 miles, according to a study by the reproductive rights research organization The Guttmacher Institute.

The clinics will need to hire lawyers to defend themselves, and if those civil lawsuits are successful, state courts can shut the clinics down. The measure also includes a provision that will prevent clinics, even if they prevail in court, from recouping their attorney fees from their legal opponents.

"The kinds of people that are going to bring these lawsuits are the people my staff see every day," said Amy Hagstrom Miller, the president of Whole Woman's Health, which operates four clinics in Texas and is suing in federal court to block the law. "They scream at them on the way to work, they know their names, they know what car they drive, and so this isn't abstract to our clinic staff and physicians."
Read the full article: https://www.cnn.com/2021/08/31/politics/texas-six-week-abortion-ban-supreme-court-explainer/index.html