Washington, D.C. — Today, the U.S. Supreme Court allowed a Texas law (SB 8) that bans abortion after six weeks—before many people even know that they are pregnant and months before viability—to take effect. Jamille Fields Allsbrook, director of women’s health and rights with the Women’s Initiative at the Center for American Progress, released the following statement:
Long-standing Supreme Court precedent has prohibited abortion bans before viability, making this new Texas law—a clear pre-viability ban that would prohibit an individual from accessing an abortion before most people even know that they are pregnant—blatantly unconstitutional. While the court’s inaction has allowed the law to go into effect for the moment, it has not yet formally ruled on an emergency petition to halt SB 8. It must apply its clear precedent and block the law immediately.
Texans will continue seeking out abortion care, but if the Supreme Court does not adhere to its own jurisprudence and uphold the rule of law, it will be nearly impossible to receive safe care from trained providers after six weeks into a pregnancy. About 85 percent of people who obtain an abortion in Texas are at least six weeks into pregnancy, meaning the law will effectively prohibit nearly all abortions in the state. This misogynistic and racist law also allows any private citizen to sue anyone who helps a person access abortion care—including abortion providers as well as family and friends who support their loved one by helping them travel to a clinic. Creating this type of mechanism to encourage the targeting of those seeking or providing basic health care is unconscionable and aims to intimidate individuals from accessing the care that they need when they are most vulnerable. It deprives Texans of access to essential health care and most harms Black, Indigenous, and Latino Texans, people with low incomes, LGBTQ people, young people, people with disabilities, immigrants, and people in rural areas, for whom legal, cultural, and systemic barriers frequently already put abortion care out of reach. Abortion is essential health care that is critical to health equity, reproductive autonomy; racial, gender, and economic justice; and helps ensure that people can control their own bodies, lives, and futures.
In 2021, states have already passed more abortion restrictions than in any previous year. Allowing the Texas law to stand could lead to even more disastrous results, spurring a torrent of new abortion restrictions from state lawmakers eager to make this essential health care inaccessible. This is why Congress must advance a proactive policy agenda to secure the right and ability to access legal abortion care, including by passing the Women’s Health Protection Act and the Equal Access to Abortion Coverage in Health Insurance (EACH) Act.