Summary: Texas passed a ban on all abortions after 6 weeks, enlisting citizens to enforce it. This week, the U.S. Supreme Court let the law stand without hearing arguments. Roe v. Wade took a huge hit. So did health care justice.
Supreme Court, Breaking Silence, Won’t Block Texas Abortion Law, New York Times, September 1, 2021, by Adam Liptak, J. David Goodman, and Sabrina Tavernise
The Supreme Court refused just before midnight on Wednesday to block a Texas law prohibiting most abortions, less than a day after it took effect and became the most restrictive abortion measure in the nation. […]
In the emergency application urging the justices to intervene, abortion providers in the state said the new law “would immediately and catastrophically reduce abortion access in Texas,” and most likely force “many abortion clinics ultimately to close.”
By Isabel Ostrer, M.D. and Jim Kahn, M.D., M.P.H.
On Wednesday, the U.S. Supreme Court let stand Texas’ near-total ban on abortion (SB8). The law prohibits abortion once fetal cardiac activity can be detected — typically at six weeks of gestation, when most women don’t even know they’re pregnant — in effect banning 85-90% of abortions. Rape and incest are not excepted. The law evades Roe v. Wade’s restrictions on state action by empowering citizens (not the police, not the government) to enforce the ban using civil litigation, with the rules stacked against anyone who facilitates an abortion. There is no precedent for this bizarre enforcement design.
SB8 is the perfect storm of abusing law-making to take away the right to control one’s own body. It strikes at the nexus of health, human rights, and democracy. It will harm health both physically and mentally, predominantly for poor people of color.
Representative Cori Bush wrote, “I’m thinking about the Black, brown, low-income, queer, and young folks in Texas. The folks this abortion health care ban will disproportionately harm. Wealthy white folks will have the means to access abortion care. Our communities won’t.”
Prior to SB8 taking effect, Texan’s seeking abortions had to travel an average of 24 miles round trip to access care. Now they will have to travel nearly 500 miles to access this same care out of state, putting safe abortions out of reach for many.
When abortion bans go into effect, women don’t stop seeking abortions, rather abortions become less safe. Abortions performed by a trained health-care provider are incredibly safe — much safer than child birth. When the U.S. legalized abortion in 1973, the number of abortion-related deaths dropped drastically, mainly due to a decline in the absolute number of deaths from illegal abortion. Total abortions have also dropped to below 1973 levels. With the new law, women’s lives are being sacrificed.
We must ensure access to health care for all — including the full-spectrum of reproductive care, which encompasses abortion care.