North Texas Daily

Two months after going into effect, Texas abortion bill argued in front of Supreme Court 

Two months after going into effect, Texas abortion bill argued in front of Supreme Court 

Two months after going into effect, Texas abortion bill argued in front of Supreme Court 
November 19
09:00 2021

Over two months have passed since the Supreme Court voted 5-4 to allow Texas’ controversial abortion bill to be enacted into law. The medical procedure has been essentially halted across the state in the meanwhile, according to the Texas Tribune

Challenges to the law were brought to the Supreme Court on Nov. 1 by lawyers from a Texas reproductive rights group and the U.S. Justice Department. More abortion rights groups have challenged the law, with the most recent taking place on Nov. 10 in a Texas district court.

The Texas Heartbeat Act was signed into law by Gov. Greg Abbott on May 19 and took effect on Sept. 1. The legislation bans abortions after week six of pregnancy. The law moved forward despite the 1973 decision by the Supreme Court that ruled a woman’s right to an abortion was protected by the constitution.

This law is the first legislation to successfully circumvent Roe v. Wade by relying on individuals to bring civil lawsuits against abortion providers, people seeking abortions after six weeks of conception and anyone else involved. The legislation could also implicate people who provide transportation or financial support to someone obtaining the abortion. There are no exceptions in cases of rape or incest.

During the bill signing ceremony in May, Abbott said that the goal of the legislature was to protect the unborn.

“Our creator endowed us with the right to life and yet millions of children lose their right to life every year because of abortion,” Abbott said during the signing. “The life of every unborn child who has a heartbeat will be saved from the ravages of abortion.”

The question of the law’s constitutionality remains at the forefront of several legal battles all the way up to the Supreme Court.

Federal solicitor general Elizabeth Prelogar argued against the Heartbeat Act on behalf of the Justice Department on the grounds of unconstitutionality. Prelogar asserted that if a constitutional decision like Roe v. Wade cannot be defended in court against the Texas Heartbeat Act, other constitutional decisions are at risk. 

“If [Texas] can do that then no constitutional right is safe,” Prelogar said during a Nov. 1 speech in front of the Supreme Court. “That would be an intolerable state of affairs and it cannot be the law. Our constitutional guarantees cannot be that fragile and the supremacy of federal law cannot be that easily subject to manipulation.”

The law would also award at least $10,000 to an individual who successfully brings a suit against someone involved in an abortion after six weeks of conception. Media arts freshman Emily Kennedy said she wonders if the financial aspect of the law will incentivize college students to report individuals involved in abortions out of desperation.

“A lot of kids need tuition money,” Kennedy said. “There might be someone desperate enough to whistleblow somebody.”

The long-term consequences of the Texas Heartbeat Act are all speculation, but some of the people who may be affected are from vulnerable populations within the college community. Art history graduate Ally Krejci said she questioned how Roe v. Wade got to be so fragile in the first place and speculates that UNT is not prepared to handle the effects of the new bill.

“We’re going to have to have childcare available,” Krejci said. “If this keeps going on and people are forced to have kids despite their best interests and financial standing and everything else that could go wrong in their life, child care is necessary at least.” 

Featured Image: A Don’t Tread On Me Sign with a snake in the shape of a uterus at the Denton Protect Survivors Rally on July 7, 2021. Photo by John Anderson

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Ana Santos

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