For many years, the Texas state government has passed heavy restrictions on abortion access, but now, a new law passed Tuesday will make it even harder to get an abortion in the state. While abortions are technically legal up to 20 weeks in Texas, the new legislation effectively means that women in the state will only be able to legally obtain abortions using the abortion pill, which is only effective during the first 10 weeks of pregnancy.
The new law, Senate Bill 8 (SB8) or the “Pre-Born Protection and Dignity Act,” makes it illegal to have a common (and safe) type of abortion, and will require patients to either bury or cremate any fetal remains from an abortion. The law limits abortion providers and will make it even harder for Texas women, especially low-income women, to access legal abortions.
Specifically, SB8 forbids health care providers from offering dilation and extraction (AKA “partial birth” abortion), and dilation and evacuation abortion methods. The first of these, partial birth abortion, has always been illegal in Texas — that’s nothing new. But the ban on dilation and evacuation, or D&E, is alarming.
D&E is the safest and most common way to terminate second-trimester pregnancies, according to The Cut. So, in essence, this law makes it impossible to obtain a second-trimester abortion in Texas, with no exceptions for rape or incest. The one case where the law will make an exception is in the case of a “medical emergency.”
This portion of the law will have very serious implications, especially for low-income women who may need more time to come up with funds to pay for an abortion, which can cost hundreds of dollars. Further, women who do not find out that they are pregnant until the second trimester will be out of options unless they can leave the state to get an abortion — a trip not everyone can afford to make.
Not only does this law make it harder to get an abortion, it also puts abortion providers in a difficult position. The law stipulates that it’s not illegal to get a dilation and evacuation abortion, but rather is illegal for providers to perform them. If an abortion provider were to go through with a dilation and evacuation procedure, they could go to jail, The Cut reports.
Critics of conservative, anti-abortion laws have also had a lot to say about forcing women to bury or cremate fetal remains after having an abortion. When Texas attempted to pass a fetal burial law last year, NPR reported that reproductive rights advocates said the law aims to shame women who have abortions and does nothing to protect women’s health or rights. However, when the Texas legislature tried to pass similarly restrictive laws last year, the law was challenged all the way up to the Supreme Court, where it was eventually struck down.
So while Texas governor Greg Abbott has already signed the bill into law, advocates for reproductive rights are not standing down. The Center for Reproductive Rights (CFRR) released a statement earlier this week making it clear that the organization will fight the law, and are prepared to take the state to the Supreme Court if necessary.
Portions of the bill are set to go into effect as early as September 1 of this year, so advocates like the CFRR have precious little time to take legal action.
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