A Texas legislation went into effect at midnight on Wednesday, prohibiting abortions beyond six weeks of pregnancy, when many women are unaware they are pregnant.
It is now, the most stringent abortion regulation in the country, and it may force many abortion clinics to close. It is after six weeks of pregnancy that at least 80% of abortions occur.
Advocates for reproductive rights hoped that the Supreme Court would intervene before the deadline to overturn the legislation, which is more limited than the precedent set by Roe v. Wade in 1973. This historic decision prohibits states from regulating abortion before the foetus is capable of living outside the mother’s womb, which occurs about 22–24 weeks of pregnancy.
In a 5–4 decision late Friday night, the Supreme Court dismissed an emergency appeal by opponents of the bill, keeping it in place.
The system of enforcing the law is quite uncommon.
The legislation is usually enforced by public officials such as judges or county clerks. However, Texas law allows private citizens to sue anybody who performs or assists in unlawful abortions, with a minimum of $10,000 in damages available if the action is successful.
This poses a risk not just to doctors and clinic personnel, but also to anybody else who could be engaged in the process, such as a ride-hailing operator who transports a lady to her abortion surgery.
Both opponents and supporters of the bill agree that suing abortion providers would be financially disastrous.
“This law is entirely focused on instilling fear in physicians and abortion funding, as well as scaring us. Dr. Ghazaleh Moayedi, an OB-GYN and abortion physician in Texas, told NPR that the law puts her career at risk.
It’s not disputed by John Seago of Texas Right to Life, the state’s largest anti-abortion group. “The cases would be brought against those who profit from abortion, as well as the abortion business as a whole.”