This Law Begins the End of Abortion as We Know It

Whatever the Supreme Court decides to do on Tuesday, Texas Republicans are ready to finally overturn Roe v. Wade. As of September 1, SB8, which Gov. Greg Abbott signed into law, will only ban abortions at 6 weeks, with no exception for rape or incest, while targeting anyone who “aids or abets” another person’s abortion. The idea is to make anyone who helps a woman get an abortion a legal target, even her Uber driver, with any citizen able to collect a bounty on abortion providers.

The six-week gestation period comes from the crazy far-right “heartbeat bills,” which originated in Ohio with a fridge group called faith2action and have since been all the rage among Republican lawmakers. I would like to point out that a six-week-old fetus looks like a tadpole and is an eight to a quarter of an inch long, but this bill isn’t about saving the “life” of someone the size of a quarter, this bill is about changing the standards of viability to effectively make it impossible for a woman to end a pregnancy.

“About 90% of women who come to Whole Woman's Health clinics are more than six weeks into their pregnancy,” Amy Hagstrom Miller, the head of Whole Woman’s Health, an abortion provider that has four clinics in Texas, told the Texas Tribune. Most people don’t even know they’re pregnant after six weeks; that’s one missed period.

There’s a lot of legal posturing here, as Republicans have made their insane new law complicated by design in the hopes of sneaking it through—to the point that abortion providers had to turn to the Supreme Court, with its 6-3 conservative majority just itching to do away with Roe, as their last best hope here.

“Whether SB8 goes into effect depends on what the Supreme Court decides to do today. If it does nothing *AND* the law goes into effect THEN that ends abortion in Texas,” Imani Gandy, the brilliant senior editor of law and policy at the Rewire News group who tweets as AngryBlackLady told me.

She went on to give me a little more background on the situation:

Texas Republicans know that the 6-week ban is unconstitutional. They also know that no court in the country has ever upheld one as constitutional. So, to get around that pesky problem, they have gamed the system so that clinics, abortion funds, and because the law deputizes anyone to enforce the law, abortion providers and ‘abettors’ are too scared to do anything abortion related out of fear that some anti-choice zealot from God-knows-where is going to file a lawsuit against them. Texas Republicans have also made it virtually impossible for attorneys to challenge these abortion laws due to some procedural jiggery pokery that could result in bankrupting any lawyer who claims in court that these laws are unconstitutional.

It's a really outrageous law and it is set to go into effect on Wednesday. Whether SB8 goes into effect depends on what the Supreme Court decides to do today. If it does nothing and the law goes into effect, then that ends abortion in Texas. The Court will have effectively overruled Casey and Roe on the Court’s ‘shadow docket,’ meaning there will have been no argument or hearing at the Supreme Court. It would be a huge deal. And it’s not out of the realm of possibility.

But even if the Court does the right thing here and stays Texas’ law, rather than using its “shadow docket” to effectively overturn Wade, that won’t buy much time before the Supremes hear Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization in October, a case that there’s every indication they agreed to hear to chip away at Roe or to do away with it altogether and kick the abortion question back to the states.

If that happens, poor women in red states will have to drive hundreds of miles and miss work to get legal abortions in towns they don’t know with doctors they’ve never met or they’ll get illegal abortions and start dying the way they did before Roe.

Whatever path conservatives and the Court take to get there, it’s clear where they’re headed. They are hell-bent on reasserting their power over women’s bodies.

Gov. Abbott is so “pro-life” he’s suing San Antonio to try and prevent their mask mandate. The same people who think wearing a mask impedes their freedom want to control what happens in women’s uteruses because this was never about life in the first place but about control.