EXPLAINER: What to Know About the New Texas Abortion Law

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The Supreme Court allowing a caller Texas instrumentality that bans astir abortions is the biggest curb to the law close to an termination successful decades, and Republicans successful different states are already considering akin measures.

The instrumentality prohibits abortions erstwhile aesculapian professionals tin observe cardiac activity, usually astir six weeks — earlier immoderate women cognize they’re pregnant. Courts person blocked different states from imposing akin restrictions, but Texas’ instrumentality differs importantly due to the fact that it leaves enforcement up to backstage citizens done civilian lawsuits alternatively of transgression prosecutors.

Here’s what to cognize astir the caller Texas instrumentality that took effect Tuesday, which already has termination clinics successful neighboring states reporting a surge successful the fig of Texas women seeking the procedure:

WHAT DOES THE TEXAS LAW DO?

It allows immoderate backstage national to writer Texas termination providers who interruption the law, arsenic good arsenic anyone who “aids oregon abets” a pistillate getting the procedure. The instrumentality does not marque exceptions for rape oregon incest. The idiosyncratic bringing the suit — who needs to person nary transportation to the pistillate getting an termination — is entitled to astatine slightest $10,000 successful damages if they prevail successful court.

HOW MANY PEOPLE COULD BE AFFECTED BY THE TEXAS LAW?

The caller Texas instrumentality could impact thousands of women seeking abortions, though precise estimates are difficult. In 2020, Texas facilities performedabout 54,000 abortions connected residents. More than 45,000 of those occurred astatine 8 weeks of gestation oregon less. Some of those abortions inactive could person been ineligible nether the caller law, if they occurred earlier cardiac enactment was detected.

HOW IS THE TEXAS LAW DIFFERENT FROM THOSE IN OTHER STATES THAT HAVE TRIED TO RESTRICT ABORTION EARLY IN PREGNANCY?

The cardinal quality is the enforcement mechanism. The Texas instrumentality relies connected citizens suing termination providers implicit alleged violations. Other states sought to enforce their statutes done authorities actions similar transgression charges against physicians who supply abortions.

Texas is 1 of 14 states with laws either banning termination wholly oregon prohibiting it aft 8 weeks oregon little of pregnancy. The remainder person each been enactment connected clasp by courts. Most recently, a tribunal halted a caller Arkansas instrumentality that would person banned each abortions unless indispensable to prevention the beingness of the parent successful a aesculapian emergency. Other states with blocked laws banning abortions aboriginal successful gestation are Alabama, Georgia, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota, Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee and Utah.

HOW DID THE TEXAS ABORTION LAW COME ABOUT?

Texas has agelong been a large battleground implicit termination rights and access, including a 2013 instrumentality that closed much than fractional of the 40-plus termination clinics successful the authorities earlier it was blocked by the Supreme Court.

Emboldened by victories successful the 2020 elections, Republicans responded with a hard-right docket this twelvemonth that included loosening weapon laws and further tightening what are already immoderate of the nation's strictest voting rules. Anti-abortion groups accidental the caller instrumentality was successful effect to vexation implicit prosecutors refusing to enforce different termination restrictions already connected the books.

Before Republican Gov. Greg Abbott signed the instrumentality successful May, voters successful Lubbock, Texas, approved an ordinance likewise intended to outlaw termination successful the metropolis by allowing household members to writer an termination provider.

WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?

A lawsuit is inactive proceeding successful the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, though the timing of aboriginal enactment is unclear.

WHAT IMPLICATIONS ARE THERE FOR ABORTION LAWS IN OTHER STATES?

The Supreme Court's enactment does not reinstate immoderate stricken termination laws successful different states. But “essentially, the Supreme Court has present fixed different states a roadmap for circumscribing Roe vs. Wade," said Steven Schwinn, a law instrumentality prof astatine the University of Illinois Chicago.

Indeed, immoderate Republican lawmakers already are talking astir pursuing suit.

In Arkansas, Republican authorities Sen. Jason Rapert connected Thursday tweeted that helium planned to record authorities mirroring Texas’ instrumentality for the Legislature to instrumentality up erstwhile it reconvene this fall. But it’s unclear whether that volition beryllium allowed, due to the fact that the session's docket presently is constricted to legislature redistricting and COVID-19 legislation.

In Mississippi, Republican authorities Sen. Chris McDaniel said Thursday that helium would “absolutely” see filing authorities to lucifer the Texas law.

“I deliberation astir blimpish states successful the South volition look astatine this inaction by the tribunal and volition spot that arsenic possibly a accidental to determination connected that issue,” McDaniel said.

The Mississippi Legislature is scheduled to commencement gathering successful January. The Supreme Court volition perceive arguments this autumn connected a 2018 Mississippi instrumentality that would prohibition astir abortions aft 15 weeks of gestation -- a lawsuit that is simply a nonstop situation to Roe v. Wade.

COULD STATES TAKE A SIMILAR "CITIZENS" ENFORCEMENT APPROACH TO LAWS ON OTHER HOT-BUTTON ISSUES?

Some states already person turned to citizens to enforce caller laws.

A Missouri instrumentality that took effect past week allows citizens to writer section instrumentality enforcement agencies whose officers knowingly enforce immoderate national weapon laws. Police and sheriff's departments tin look fines of up to $50,000 per occurrence. The instrumentality was backed by Republicans who fearfulness Democratic President Joe Biden's medication could enact restrictive weapon policies.

In Kansas, a caller instrumentality prompted by vexation implicit coronavirus restrictions allows residents to record lawsuits challenging disguise mandates and limits connected nationalist gatherings imposed by counties. Last month, the Kansas Supreme Court allowed enforcement of the instrumentality to proceed portion it considers an entreaty of a little tribunal ruling that declared the instrumentality unconstitutional.

Utah besides took a akin strategy connected pornography past year, passing a instrumentality that allows citizens to writer websites that neglect to show a informing astir the effects of “obscene materials” connected minors. Though adult-entertainment groups warned it was a usurpation of escaped speech, galore sites person complied with the instrumentality to debar the disbursal of a imaginable onslaught of ineligible challenges.

Citizens filing their ain lawsuits has agelong been a fixture of biology and disability-rights law, said Travis Brandon, an subordinate prof astatine Belmont University College of Law. Environmental groups, for example, assistance record suit against businesses accused of violating national contamination permits.

In California, Proposition 65 allows radical who mightiness person been exposed to perchance carcinogenic materials to some record their ain lawsuits and cod a benignant of “bounty” if they win. Those laws are different, though, successful that radical mostly indispensable amusement they person been straight affected by a usurpation of the law, a diagnostic missing from the caller Texas measure, Brandon said.

Georgetown University instrumentality prof Lawrence Gostin says he's disquieted for Texans aft the authorities legislature passed a restrictive termination instrumentality successful an overnight session. Under the caller law, radical who assistance successful providing an termination to look fiscal damages of up to $10,000. "They've allowed enforcement of the instrumentality to beryllium delegated to radical who whitethorn beryllium zealots," Gostin said.

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David A. Lieb reported from Jefferson City, Missouri. Associated Press writers Andrew DeMillo successful Little Rock, Arkansas; Heather Hollingsworth successful Mission, Kansas; Emily Wagster Pettus successful Jackson, Mississippi; and Lindsay Whitehurst successful Salt Lake City contributed to this report.

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