Texas Offers $ 10,000 ‘Bounty’ on Abortions – What You Need to Know


protesters rally against new restrictive texas abortion law in austin

A protester dressed as a maid holds up a sign during a protest outside the state capital of Texas in May after Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed a bill banning abortions after a rhythm was detected fetal heart.

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Across the country, restrictive abortion bans continue to be introduced at the state level. In Texas, a new Fetal Heart Rate Bill goes one step further by encouraging individuals to enforce the law with a reward of $ 10,000 (or more) to anyone who successfully sues someone providing or assisting a woman. seeking an abortion after six weeks of pregnancy. Even religious leaders who provide emotional and spiritual counseling to patients considering abortion could be held accountable under the law.

“The state has put a price on the head of any person or entity that gives money to a patient for an abortion after six weeks of pregnancy, before most people know they are pregnant,” Nancy Northup, CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights, said in a statement to ELLE. “Worse, it will intimidate loved ones from providing support for fear of prosecution. “

In response, a large group of abortion providers, abortion funds, support networks, doctors and clergy have filed a lawsuit aimed at blocking what they call an “unconstitutional ban” on the. abortion before the law comes into force. Here’s all you need to know.

Texas has banned abortions as early as six weeks, one of the most restrictive measures in the United States

In May, Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed the “heartbeat ban” known as SB 8 which bans abortion when a fetal heartbeat is detected. This means that many women in Texas who don’t even know they are still pregnant won’t be allowed to have an abortion in the state. There are no exceptions for rape or incest cases, but the bill includes a provision for “medical emergencies”.

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When Abbott signed the law, which will come into effect Sept. 1, in a closed-door ceremony, he said: “Our creator gave us the right to life and yet millions of children are losing their right. to life every year because of abortion. In Texas, we are working to save those lives. This is exactly what the Texas Legislature did this session.

Texas’ abortion ban paves the way for legal action.

The new law allows individuals to sue anyone they believe helped a pregnant person to have an abortion. Not only can anyone literally sue the funds and abortion providers, but they can also sue the friends of someone seeking an abortion, including the person who took them to their appointment. . Religious leaders who provide spiritual counseling to a woman considering an abortion could also be held accountable. Not surprisingly, black and Latin communities will be disproportionately affected. According to The Washington Post, nearly two-thirds of all abortions in Texas over the past five years have involved black and Hispanic women.

Abortion rights activists call the law a “bonus”.

Texas is just one of many states that have passed extremely restrictive abortion laws, but this new bill is particularly terrifying because it gives private citizens the power to enforce the law. Those found guilty of performing or inducing an abortion, as well as anyone who “assists or encourages the performance or inducement of an abortion” in violation of the prohibition may be fined $ 10,000.

Although abortion patients themselves cannot be prosecuted under Texas law, almost anyone close to them can (think a parent, abusive partner, or healthcare professional) . “The state has put a price on the head of any person or entity who donates money to a patient for an abortion after six weeks of pregnancy, before most people know they are pregnant,” Northup said. . “Worse, it will intimidate loved ones from providing support for fear of prosecution. “

Abortion rights advocates and providers have filed a lawsuit to block the law.

On Tuesday, a lawsuit was filed in Austin by Planned Parenthood, the Center for Reproductive Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union and several other groups in an attempt to block the law.

“Texas lawmakers have tried for years to completely and unconstitutionally ban abortion,” Planned Parenthood President and CEO Alexis McGill Johnson said in a statement to ELLE. “Now they’re trying a new tactic: give complete strangers the power to sue anyone who proposes or helps someone to have an abortion. The new law would open the floodgates for frivolous lawsuits designed to bankrupt health centers, harass providers and isolate patients from anyone who would treat them compassionately as they seek health care. Cruelty is the point and we won’t let it stand. Planned Parenthood will do everything in its power to fight SB 8 in court and ensure that every Texan is able to make their own decisions about their health and future.

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In an attempt to block what the organizations behind the lawsuit are calling “unconstitutional” legislation, they also reportedly tried to prevent Texas judges from enforcing the law and court clerks from accepting the lawsuits.

Texas isn’t the only state to ban unsafe abortion.

Abortion is still legal in the United States, although restrictions and accessibility vary widely from state to state. Texas is one of a number of states to introduce legislation that would make abortion illegal as soon as a fetal heartbeat can be detected. To learn more about the states that introduced and passed these bills, read ELLE’s guide to Fetal Heart Rate Bills here.

In May, the Supreme Court announced it would review the legality of Mississippi’s ban on most abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy. Many abortion rights advocates believe this means the Supreme Court, which now has a conservative majority, will reconsider Roe vs. Wade. To learn more about the future of abortion access, read ELLE’s explainer on the new US abortion laws here.

You can find five ways to help advocate for abortion rights right now here.

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