The Texas Heartbeat Act (S.B.8) is a bill drafted by the Texas legislature that says “a physician may not knowingly perform or induce an abortion on a pregnant woman if the physician detected a fetal heartbeat for the unborn child” or “failed to perform a test to detect a fetal heartbeat.” The Heartbeat Act includes provisions that allow Texas Residents to sue abortion providers or those who aid and abet someone seeking an abortion in the state of Texas. If the resident wins then they will receive a bounty of at least $10,000 which would come out of the pockets of the defendants.
Why it matters:
Texas is not the first state to have a law either banning abortions entirely or prohibit them after 8 weeks or less of pregnancy, but it is the first to have a provision where citizens are the ones acting against abortion providers or those that help them. This is a unique tactic to end abortion because the federal government is not carrying out punishment, the people are. The threat of legal litigation has prompted Texas abortion clinics to immediately limit their abortion services, to comply with the law.
An immediate implication that we are already seeing is according to AP news abortion clinics in neighboring states have been experiencing a surge in the number of Texas women seeking abortions since the Heartbeat Act was passed. An implication that we have yet to see but we are expecting, is the use of this Act to further dismantle the precedent of Roe v. Wade. AP news also interviewed a professor in constitutional law from the University of Illinois Chicago named Steven Schwinn, and he said, “essentially, the Supreme Court has now given other states a roadmap for circumscribing Roe vs. Wade,” It is important to keep up to date with the effects that this law will have on the rest of the United States of America.