The new Texas law that bans abortions after six weeks of pregnancy will be enforced by private citizens who can file lawsuits against service providers including doctors and clinics. The Lone Star State will not enforce the ban. Citizens can also sue a person who “aids or abets” the woman who is undergoing the abortion. Private citizens can keep up to $10,000 of the money they earn from such lawsuits.
Although the abortion patient cannot be sued, all the people surrounding her including a cab driver who had knowledge of the act before driving her to a clinic can be sued. The Texas government has avoided legal hurdles by placing the enforcement on private citizens and critics say that the government has found loopholes so that they can avoid legal entanglements.
On Friday, President Joe Biden commented on the law saying that the most pernicious thing about the Texas law was that it sort of created a “vigilante” system where people get rewards. He said that although it sounded ridiculous, and it was sort of “Un-American” as well.
The Texas abortion law is called the Heartbeat Act. It disallows abortions after a fetal heartbeat can be detected by ultrasound. This might occur as early as six weeks. The law gives medical exemptions if a mother’s life is in danger but doesn’t exempt cases of rape or incest.
Texas is one among 14 states in the nation that has laws that either totally ban abortions or ban if after eight weeks or less of pregnancy. Courts in some states have blocked new laws that ban abortion in early pregnancy in the following states
- North Dakota
- South Carolina
The recent Supreme Court upholding the Texas law will make it easier for these states to pass a similar law. The earlier, blocked laws may not be upheld in these states, but Texas has shown them a new way forward to pass similar laws that ban abortions at 6 weeks.