OPINION: This article contains commentary which reflects the author's opinion
The Supreme Court ruling that invented the right of women to have abortions, Roe V Wade, is about to be tested in a major way.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed a bill into law on Wednesday that would outlaw abortions after six weeks except in cases of rape or incest and it takes effect in September, The Texas Tribune reported.
The bill, and other bills of its type, are commonly known as heartbeat bills because they outlaw abortions after a baby’s heartbeat is detected.
The signing of the bill opens a new frontier in the battle over abortion restrictions as first-of-its-kind legal provisions — intended to make the law harder to block — are poised to be tested in the courts.
Abortion rights advocates have promised to challenge the new law, which they consider one of the most extreme across the country and the strictest in Texas since the landmark Roe v. Wade decision.
The state’s legislature “worked together on a bipartisan basis to pass a bill that I’m about to sign that ensures that the life of every unborn child who has a heartbeat will be saved from the ravages of abortion,” the governor said in a livestream video shared to Facebook.
The law was done in a clever way, where no government official was charged with enforcing the law, but providing private citizens the right to sue abortion providers who perform abortions after six weeks of pregnancy.
Because of that there is no one for abortion rights activists to sue as they normally would.
“It’s a very unique law and it’s a very clever law,” Josh Blackman, a South Texas College of Law Houston professor, said. “Planned Parenthood can’t go to court and sue Attorney General [Ken] Paxton like they usually would because he has no role in enforcing the statute. They have to basically sit and wait to be sued.”
“Every citizen is now a private attorney general,” he said. “You can have random people who are against abortion start suing tomorrow.”
Planned Parenthood is furious about the new law.
“It is appalling that in defiance of public opinion and public health, state politicians remain committed to controlling our bodies,” Planned Parenthood Action Fund President Alexis McGill Johnson said.
And it comes days after the Supreme Court decided to hear a case on a Mississippi law that bans abortions after 15 weeks.
It will be the first abortion case to be argued before the Supreme Court since Justice Amy Coney Barrett was confirmed, potentially providing a pathway to challenging Roe v. Wade and allowing outright bans on abortion.
The court will consider the heart of Roe by hearing arguments on whether all bans on abortion prior to the point of fetal viability are unconstitutional.
The Mississippi ban included exceptions for medical emergencies or a “severe” fetal abnormality, but not cases of rape or incest.
A federal judge blocked the Mississippi law shortly after its passage in 2018, and the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals — among the country’s most conservative appeal circuits — upheld that decision last year, citing the precedent set by Roe.
It would seem that Barrett will be the ultimate vote on this.
Late last year, President Donald Trump announced was interviewed on Fox & Friends Weekend and was asked if he wanted Roe v. Wade overturned.
Trump replied with his focus on Barrett.
“So I didn’t think it was for me to discuss that with her because it’s something that she’s going to be ruling on and this is what I was told, although I would have had the right to do that,” Trump said.
“But if you look at her past actions, rulings, I guess she maybe would be in the category you mentioned, I don’t know. I can say this, that she is certainly conservative in her views, in her rulings, and we’ll have to see how that all works out, but I think it will work out,” Trump added.