The outpouring of anger comes after a bill to limit abortions and make individual doctors liable to civil litigation by private citizens awaits Texas governor Greg Abbott’s signature after the state’s Senate approved the measure on Thursday. The governor is expected to sign the bill.
The legislation permits anyone, including those not in Texas, to sue a doctor or anyone else caught helping a woman obtain an abortion after the new limit and pursue monetary damages. Responsibility to maintain the ban is removed from law enforcement.
“The Texas Heartbeat Act is novel in approach, allowing for citizens to hold abortionists accountable through private lawsuits. No heartbeat law passed by another state has this this strategy. Additionally, the bill does not punish women who obtain abortions,” Rebecca Parma, an associate from Texas Right to life, said to the AP.
The legislation would prohibit abortions after a heartbeat has been detected. Currently, certain medical devices can identify a heartbeat at six weeks, even when the embryo is neither technically a fetus or has a heart. Embryos are not considered to be fetus until the pregnancy in the 11th week, according to experts.
Women have taken to Twitter to share their outrage about the bill and highlight what they say is its regressive approach. Many pointed out that a lot of women do not know they are pregnant before six weeks.
The current limit for legal abortions in Texas is 20 weeks but maintains exemptions for women with serious conditions or if the fetus has a severe abnormality.
Texas is not the only state to attempt to pass similar legal limits on abortions. In the past two years, other states, such as Alabama, Georgia and Kentucky have all passed similar legislation.
In a statement from March 2021 by Jessica Arons, a reproductive rights lawyer at the ACLU, read:
“This has long been the strategy of anti-abortion extremists: chip away at abortion access while leaving the legal right in place, even if in name only. That strategy shifted, however, in 2019 when abortion opponents began to hope the Supreme Court would use a near-total ban to overturn Roe v. Wade. Now, they are pursuing both strategies simultaneously,” she wrote.
That was the ruling that granted bodily autonomy and access to safe abortions to all women living in the United States of America.