Yesterday the Supreme Court made a very loud decision by choosing not to block Texas’ abortion ban law (SB8), which essentially takes away access to abortions. Even if you don’t live in Texas we all need to be worried and fighting back against this law and the Supreme Court’s hand in this situation. This is just a first step to further abortion restrictions and bans. Abortions are an aspect of healthcare that all individuals have a right to and can make their own choices about. Something existing does not mean it has to be something you have to do, and that goes for abortions as well as anything else you have free will about. This new law also has no exceptions for pregnancies resulted from rape or incest.
Who Gets Sued
It is important to explain that this law does not mean that the person getting the abortion is going to get sued, it is actually the opposite. The people that will be sued are abortion providers and anyone that assist a person in getting an abortion. So, if we break that down that means that all medical providers that abortion services could be sued. That is your gynecologist, your local Planned Parenthood, your nurse practitioners, the emergency room, literally anyone who is a licensed medical professional that performs an abortion. It also includes anyone who helps you get an abortion. Abortion funds, your best friend that gives you a ride, the rideshare driver that gives picks you up and drops you off, the random person on the internet that sends you the webpage with information about abortion access--any of those people could be sued.
This matters because it puts providers between a rock and a hard place. If providers face being sued that means they have to think of the financial implications before doing an abortion and it also could mean risking losing their licensure. It also directly impacts the support systems of people getting abortions. If telling people you will get an abortion or had an abortion means they can face legal implications a lot of people may have to endure the process by themselves, with no support, help, or guidance. There are a variety of ways to support a loved one through an abortion, but this new law essentially can cause one into solitude through the experience.
Who Can Sue
The real kicker of this whole thing is WHO can sue providers and people that offer assistance. It is anyone, anywhere in the US. Yep, anyone can sue them. That means that if you go onto a social media platform and share any information that seems like you received an abortion in Texas then anyone who sees that can file a lawsuit against your providers and if they do the work of finding out all involved every single one of them. That means that anyone with the time and energy to personally attack others’ rights and bodily choices can negatively impact others’ lives. This is a wide-open lane of attack for people that just want to be shitty. If anyone is so avid of a pro-lifer they now have a way to push that view on others and negatively affect people’s lives.
The law bans abortions after 6 weeks. Do you know where 6 weeks gestation falls in the pregnancy timeline? 2 weeks after a missed period. 2 weeks! The majority of people do not realize they are pregnant at 6 weeks. Unless someone is actively trying to get pregnant they more than likely would not be aware of their pregnancy. Irregular periods are highly common among people with uteruses and can be caused by a variety of things, from changes to diet to stress. Stress can cause missed periods or late periods. Stress, the number one thing that most people are experiencing currently because we are still in the midst of a pandemic, yeah that thing. The only way to know that you were pregnant at 6 weeks is to take a pregnancy test every day of one’s life and that is highly unrealistic for a variety of reasons, but most specifically for the financial implications. Do you know how expensive pregnancy tests are?!
So what will this mean? It means that people are going to have to be put themselves at risk. They will have to risk safety and health by potentially doing unsafe abortions. They will have to put themselves at risk and travel outside of the state of Texas. They will have to put themselves at risk of lack of support. They will have to put themselves at risk of not fully recuperating after the abortion if they do travel for it because they couldn’t inform their employers or friends/family as to why they need time off to rest because they could then potentially be sued (or worst sue your abortion provider). There is also the risk of not being able to receive financial assistance for an abortion because abortion funds and assistance programs are being sued and can no longer provide their assistance.
Another potential ramification of this is people’s greed. If a person who files the lawsuit wins the case they can get $10,000. Think about it for a second. All someone needs is a shred of evidence and they could make $10,000 for snitching on what someone else chose to do with their own body. That is one hell of an incentive for some people who are vehemently opposed to abortions or to individuals who don’t care about others and put themselves first and see easy money.
What Can You Do?
Start at home. Talk with everyone in your life about this ban, about the importance of abortions, about personal autonomy, about healthcare access, about everything! We all need to be talking about this, not just people with uteruses, or sex educators, or lawmakers, or medical professionals, everyone.
Pay attention to what is going on. Keep up with the news to see what plays out from this and make sure the wording and technicalities of this law don’t spill into other states’ legislation.
Be active. Call senators, congressmen, aides, whoever has a role in lawmaking and legislation. Blow their phones up demanding this decision be reversed. Email them incessantly. Mail letters to their offices. Spam their social media inboxes. Do that you can and feel comfortable doing.
Donate. Donate to abortion funds. Keep abortion funds in and out of Texas alive so that they can continue to help people. Donate to Planned Parenthoods across the country, especially ones near the borders of Texas. Donate to the ACLU and other organizations working to take legal action to fight this law and the lack of Supreme Court intervention.
This law is going to largely impact poor, underserved, and BIPOC communities and individuals in Texas. Even if you do not live in Texas or think that this won’t affect you, everyone needs to work to fight against this. This is just a first step and a slippery slope. Other states may try to enact laws with this workaround wording and verbiage to make abortions harder to access across the nation. We know that things in life have ripple effects and this law most definitely will, so we all need to work to minimize those ripples and protect those most impacted.