Twenty abortion-rights groups are suing the state of Texas over a measure signed into law by Gov. Greg Abbott that bans abortions after fetal cardiac activity can be detected – as early as five or six weeks into a pregnancy. The so-called fetal heartbeat bill, which is supposed to go into effect Sept. 1, also allows people to sue providers or anyone who helped a woman get an abortion, after that time.
Caroline Mala Corbin, a constitutional law professor at the University of Miami School of Law, told Texas Standard that the provision allowing for lawsuits is “quite novel and, frankly, a little bonkers.” She also says the law as a whole is “incontrovertibly unconstitutional” under existing Supreme Court decisions.
Highlights from this segment:
– Anyone can file a civil lawsuit against a person who either performed an abortion on a woman after detection of fetal cardiac activity, or anyone who helped a woman get an abortion after that milestone.
– The law provides a $10,000 incentive to anyone who successfully brings a lawsuit against anyone who assists with an abortion after the five- or six-week point.
– Potential frivolous lawsuits could become distracting for women’s health clinics, making it more difficult for them to perform their services.
– Texas’ law is more extreme than Mississippi’s law banning abortions after 15 weeks, which is being challenged in the U.S. Supreme Court this fall.
– Groups challenging Texas’ law argue it’s unconstitutional because it bans abortions before a pregnancy is considered “viable,” at around 24 weeks.