For Immediate Release: September 1, 2021
NARAL Pro-Choice America Denounces Texas’ Vigilante Abortion Ban Now in Effect
Washington, DC — Today, Texas’ unprecedented abortion ban, Senate Bill 8, went into effect, banning abortion at approximately 6 weeks, before many people even know they are pregnant, and granting almost any person the power to sue someone for “aiding and abetting” a pregnant person seeking abortion care and being awarded $10,000 or more for their vigilantism. The ban went into effect after the U.S. Supreme Court failed to step in last night to block the blatantly unconstitutional law.
NARAL Pro-Choice America Acting President Adrienne Kimmell released the following statement:
“Anti-choice politicians in Texas have put their cruel agenda on full display. SB 8 effectively puts a bounty on anyone who supports a pregnant person seeking abortion care after about 6 weeks in pregnancy. The anti-choice movement is determined to decimate reproductive freedom and intimidate providers, pregnant people, and those who love and care for them. Make no mistake, this law paves the way for anti-choice extremists to turn their dystopian vision into a horrifying reality—not just in Texas—but around the country.
The fundamental freedom to make our own decisions about our lives, futures, and families is at stake. NARAL and our 2.5 million members will continue fighting back against attacks on abortion access from statehouses to the Supreme Court.”
Any Texan can now be sued if they are so much as suspected of having helped a pregnant person seeking abortion care after about 6 weeks in pregnancy. This includes clergy members or counselors, abortion funds that assist someone in paying for abortion care, and even someone who drives a patient to their appointment—including family members, friends, and rideshare drivers. Anti-choice extremist group Texas Right to Life launched a website soliciting volunteers to initiate a flood of lawsuits aimed at shuttering clinics and intimidating pregnant people and those who support them.
While multiple states have passed laws banning abortion at this early point in pregnancy, until today, every state’s attempt to ban abortion at 6 weeks has been struck down by federal courts as unconstitutional. Texas’ SB 8 is different: Unlike bans in other states, which are enforced by state officials, SB 8 gives private citizens unprecedented authority to enforce its abortion ban.
The impact of SB 8 will reverberate throughout surrounding states as they experience an influx of Texans traveling to get abortion care no longer accessible in their home state. When anti-choice Republicans in Texas attempted to ban abortion in 2020 amid the COVID-19 pandemic, it resulted in a 1,200% increase in Texans visiting Planned Parenthood clinics in Colorado and a “more than sevenfold increase”—706%—in Texans visiting Planned Parenthood clinics in Colorado, New Mexico, and Nevada. The Guttmacher Institute estimates that SB 8 going into effect could increase one-way driving distance for abortion services from 12 miles to 248 miles, or 20 times as far.
The harm of SB 8 is likely to disproportionately impact Black, Latinx, Indigenous, and other people of color; LGBTQ+ people; immigrants; and people with low incomes, communities disproportionately targeted by both surveillance and barriers to abortion access.
The enactment of SB 8 is part of a broader onslaught of attacks on abortion access in Texas. Earlier this year, Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed into law a “trigger ban” that will automatically ban abortion across the state and criminalize doctors who provide abortion care if the anti-choice supermajority on the U.S. Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade (which they will have the opportunity to do this term in the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization case). Yesterday, anti-choice lawmakers in the Texas House of Representatives passed SB 4, a bill that attacks access to medication abortion care. The bill has already passed the state Senate and will now go to Governor Abbott for approval.
Texas’ SB 8 joins over 90 other restrictions on abortion access that have been enacted at the state level in 2021, making it the worst year for abortion rights since Roe was decided.
For over 50 years, NARAL Pro-Choice America has fought to protect and advance reproductive freedom at the federal and state levels—including access to abortion care, birth control, paid family leave, and protections from pregnancy discrimination—for every body. NARAL is powered by its more than 2.5 million members from every state and congressional district in the country, representing the 8 in 10 Americans who support safe, legal abortion.