Texas Abortion Law: Questions and Answers

A Texas regulation banning most abortions after about six weeks of being pregnant went into impact on Wednesday, regardless of the 1973 Supreme Court choice that established a constitutional proper to the process, making the state probably the most restrictive within the nation when it comes to entry to abortion companies.

Other states have handed related legal guidelines, however these measures face authorized challenges. The Texas regulation is the primary to be applied. On a vote of 5 to four, the courtroom refused simply earlier than midnight on Wednesday to dam the regulation.

Because of the best way the regulation was written, it might be troublesome to problem in courtroom, representing a sea change within the battle over abortion rights and inviting imitation by different jurisdictions looking for to tamp down entry to abortion.

“These laws are unconstitutional, as we have understood Supreme Court rulings until now, and courts have quickly issued preliminary injunctions blocking enforcement,” mentioned Elizabeth Nash, state coverage analyst for the Guttmacher Institute, a analysis group that helps abortion rights.

“This is the first one that has gone into effect,” she added. “This is huge in that respect.”

Here are solutions to a couple widespread questions concerning the new laws.

Is the regulation an entire ban on abortions?

The regulation bars abortions as soon as cardiac exercise could be detected within the embryo. This usually happens across the sixth week of being pregnant.

That could be very early in a being pregnant, and many ladies have no idea they’re pregnant at that time. By the time a pregnant lady misses her interval, she is 4 weeks pregnant, as docs often outline it.

Under the Texas law, then, a woman would have about two weeks to recognize her condition, confirm the pregnancy with a test, make a decision about how to manage the pregnancy and obtain an abortion.

Many women may not track their periods carefully, may have irregular cycles, or may not know the exact date of the start of their last period, experts noted.

“It is extremely possible and very common for people to get to the six-week mark and not know they are pregnant,” said Dr. Jennifer Villavicencio, lead for equity transformation at the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

The cardiac activity detected on ultrasound is not a true heartbeat, Dr. Villavicencio added. It results from electrical activity, but the valves of the heart have not yet formed. And the sound does not indicate the pregnancy is viable, she said.

“Forcing them to find out about a pregnancy and make a decision about how to manage it in a short period of time is antithetical to ethical care,” Dr. Villavicencio said.

Does the law make exceptions for pregnancies resulting from rape or incest, or to protect the life of the mother?

The law does not make exceptions for rape or incest. It does permit abortions for health reasons, but the exceptions are narrowly drawn, allowing a termination only if the pregnancy could endanger the mother’s life or lead to “substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function,” Ms. Nash noted.

“These are very narrow exceptions,” she said, and the language does not cover every instance in which a woman’s health might be at risk. Nonetheless, she added, “Health providers will be very conservative about interpreting the law, because they don’t want to cross a line.”

Doesn’t Roe v. Wade guarantee a woman’s right to abortion? Can the Texas law be challenged on constitutional grounds?

The Texas law bars state officials from actually enforcing it, a design intended to make it difficult to challenge in the courts.

Usually a lawsuit aiming to block such a law as unconstitutional names state officials as defendants. Instead, the Texas law deputizes private citizens to sue anyone who performs an abortion or “aids and abets” a procedure. Plaintiffs who have no connection to the patient or the clinic may sue and recover legal fees, as well as $10,000 if they win.

As a result, the question for the Supreme Court is not whether the law is constitutional, but whether it can be challenged in court.

Does Texas now have the most restrictive abortion law in the nation?

Other states — including Georgia, Mississippi, Kentucky and Ohio — have also passed “heartbeat” laws that ban abortion once cardiac activity can be detected on an ultrasound scan.

Those laws would also ban abortions at about six weeks of pregnancy, 18 weeks earlier than the legal standard set by Roe v. Wade, which allows abortion up until about 24 weeks, roughly the point when a fetus can survive outside the womb. But those state laws have been held up by legal challenges and have not been implemented.

Abortion providers in Texas estimate that 85 percent of patients seeking abortion are at least six weeks pregnant and would be denied care under the new state law.

Who will be most affected by the Texas law?

There are seven million women of childbearing age in Texas, and the law will make it more difficult for all of them to obtain abortions in the state, as legislators intended.

But the measure will create nearly insurmountable obstacles for certain vulnerable populations, abortion providers said. Among them: teenagers, who often don’t realize they are pregnant until later in a pregnancy; low-income people, who need to find about $550 to cover the cost of the procedure; and people of color, including undocumented immigrants.

About 70 percent of abortions in Texas in 2019 were provided to women of color, according to the Guttmacher Institute.

Texas requires minors to obtain permission from a parent or guardian to gain access to abortion care. Some minors must go to court to do so, adding to the delays, said Rosann Mariappuram, executive director of Jane’s Due Process in Austin, Texas, which helps teenagers get abortions.

Kamyon Conner, the executive director of the Texas Equal Access Fund, which helps low-income women pay for abortions, said she was particularly concerned about the new law’s potential impact on Black women in Texas, who already face high maternal mortality rates.

Undocumented women cannot travel easily around the state to get access to care, she added, and women with chronic illnesses can find a pregnancy life-threatening.

Source link Nytimes.com

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