Anyone will be able to sue a woman getting an abortion in Texas under new law

Issue once again the focus of Texas Republicans as governor's special session underway

Gino Spocchia
Friday 09 July 2021 17:40
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Women getting abortions in Texas after six weeks could be sued by anyone as part of a controversial law taking effect in September.

While the state and officials would normally be responsible for enforcing such laws, from September it will fall to residents of Texas – and possibly beyond – to sue those who violate tougher rules on abortions.

As The New York Times reported on Friday, the so-called “heartbeat bill” was signed into law by Governor Gregg Abbott in May amid criticism from women’s rights campaigners and medical officials.

The bill not only flips the state’s legal system on its head, but also bans abortions after the detection of a “heartbeat” at about around six weeks, making Texas the toughest state for abortions in the US.

It will also become the only state to allow anyone to enforce the law against women and abortion clinics, which could close amid pressure from anti-abortion campaigners.

Members of Texas’ Republican legislature on Thursday began debating the introduction of abortion drugs as part of a special session called by Mr Abbott, in what is a last minute bid to complete legislation before the summer.

Restrictions on voting and social media, as well as issues of border security and critical race theory, also feature on the agenda for Texas’ legislature, according to The Texas Tribune.

As many as 370 Texas lawyers signed an open letter this spring against the “heartbeat bill”, which they said amounted to an “unprecedented abuse of civil litigation,” and could “have a destabilising impact on the state’s legal infrastructure.”

John Seago, legislative director for Texas Right to Life, told The Times that pro-abortion campaigners felt that federal courts were in opposition to abortion restrictions, and so they were trying “a different route”.

“There’s still quite a lot of hoops to jump through for a claimant to prevail,” he added.

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