- The new law in Texas bans abortion at 6 weeks when a fetal heartbeat can be detected.
- The bill makes no exceptions for pregnancies that resulted from rape or incest.
- The Supreme Court is hearing another case in Mississippi on the state’s 15-week abortion ban.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed a law that bans abortion at 6 weeks, which is before most people even realize they’re pregnant or have missed a period.
The law is scheduled to take effect in September.
Texas currently permits abortions up to 20 weeks unless pregnant people have a life threatening medical condition or the fetus has a severe abnormality.
The U.S. Supreme Court is hearing an abortion case in Mississippi — Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization — regarding the state’s law that bans abortions after 15 weeks.
Depending on the decision, the court will either reaffirm or knock down Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that protects the constitutional right to have an abortion. Abortion is currently legal in all 50 states, including Texas and Mississippi.
If Roe v. Wade were to be overturned, more states may sign restrictive and extreme laws blocking access to abortions.
Abortion rights activists and advocates are preparing to challenge the Texas bill to prevent it from going into effect in September.
The new law in Texas bans abortion at 6 weeks when a fetal heartbeat can be detected. The bill makes no exceptions for pregnancies that resulted from rape or incest.
It also categorizes abortion as a civil violation, not a criminal ban, which essentially allows 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 some abortion providers to shut down.
This bill “means that patients only have about 2 weeks from their missed period to recognize and confirm the pregnancy, decide they want an abortion, find a clinic, arrange time off from work or school and child care, if needed, as well as organize transportation since many people live far from the nearest clinic in Texas,” said Dr. Daniel Grossman, a professor in the department of obstetrics, gynecology, and reproductive sciences at the University of California, San Francisco.
People would need to visit a clinic 24 hours before their abortion for an ultrasound and state-mandated counseling.
They’d also need to secure enough money to cover the abortion since abortion care is not covered by insurance in Texas, according to Grossman.
The law makes abortion care extremely difficult, if not impossible, to access.
“Because most people do not realize they are pregnant at that point, it functions as a de facto ban on all abortion,” said Jill Adams, JD, the executive director of the reproductive justice organization If/When/How.
The law is scheduled to go into effect in September. Abortion care advocates are preparing to challenge the law so the courts can rule on its constitutionality.
“We are endeavoring every day to halt the criminalization of self-managed abortion so that all people can self-determine their reproductive lives free from the threat of criminalization,” Adams told Healthline.
The Supreme Court is currently hearing another case based in Mississippi — Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization — that could potentially weaken Roe v. Wade.
A federal district court and the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals both found the law unconstitutional since Roe v. Wade protects the constitutional right to an abortion up to the point in pregnancy when a fetus would be viable outside the body, which is around 24 weeks.
According to Adams, the 15-week abortion ban in Mississippi further limits access to abortion care in a state where it’s already very difficult to get an abortion.
“This case presents the frightening opportunity for the high court, now comprised of a majority of vehement abortion opponents, to reverse Roe v. Wade,” Adams said.
If the Mississippi law holds up in court, it would overturn Roe v. Wade.
“If that were to happen, it could open the door for extreme laws like this one in Texas to stand up in court,” Grossman said.
States have never been able to pass a law banning abortion before fetus viability.
Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization is the first abortion case that will be reviewed by the Supreme Court’s 6–3 conservative majority.
If Roe v. Wade were to be overturned, or if the restrictive laws in Texas and Mississippi hold up, many people will find ways to end their pregnancies at home.
“Throughout the world, resourceful and determined people have always found ways to end pregnancies, and they will do that here,” Adams said.
Others will be forced to continue their pregnancy, which has higher health risks than abortion, noted Grossman.
“Patients forced to carry an unwanted pregnancy to term also face higher socioeconomic risks compared to those who obtain a wanted abortion,” Grossman said.
According to Adams, self-managed abortions have the potential to be safe and effective with the right information, resources, methods, and reliable backup care.
Self-managed abortions can come with legal risks.
“People throughout the country, including in Texas, have been arrested, prosecuted, and incarcerated for ending their own pregnancies outside the formal medical system or for helping another person do so,” Adams said.
Anyone who has been criminalized or is interested in the legal rights and risks of abortion care and self-managed abortion can get free advice from the Repro Legal Helpline by calling 844-868-2812.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed a law that bans abortion at 6 weeks, which is before most people even realize they are pregnant or have missed a period.
Abortion advocates are preparing to challenge the bill, which is scheduled to go into effect in September.
The Supreme Court is hearing another case in Mississippi on the state’s 15-week abortion ban. The ruling will either overturn or reaffirm Roe v. Wade, which protects the constitutional right to abortion before fetus viability outside the body.