This past May, Texas Governor Greg Abbott implemented a near total ban on abortion when he signed one of the most restrictive bills in the country into law. Senate Bill 8 (SB8) bans abortion when embryonic cardiac activity can be detected—as early as six weeks—and not only allows others to sue anyone suspected of assisting a person seeking an abortion, but rewards them with $10,000 for doing so.
Banning abortion at six weeks on the basis of cardiac activity is a flawed notion that does nothing to improve patient outcomes, and only exists to apply personhood to a fetus and advance an anti-choice agenda. The presence of cardiac activity does not equate to viability, nor does a fetus at that early stage of pregnancy even have a developed heart. In fact, cardiac activity is nothing more than electrical activity detected among fetal cells; a fetus at six weeks of pregnancy doesn’t technically have a “heartbeat”.
SB8 is a direct threat against our right to bodily autonomy, abortion providers, and the important and necessary work of our partner abortion funds and practical support organizations. Here is an overview of the provisions among Senate Bill 8.
Should SB8 go into effect on September 1, 2021, it would:
- Criminalize abortion beyond six weeks when cardiac activity can be detected.
- Allow private citizens to sue anyone who helps another person access an abortion in Texas (family, friends, spiritual leaders, or even an Uber driver that drives you to the clinic) and offers a $10,000 payout to them.
- Criminalize the work of abortion providers, abortion funds, and practical support organizations.
That’s why we’ve joined almost two dozen other Texas abortion providers, groups, and advocates as plaintiffs in a lawsuit against Texas. We are fighting back against this harmful and dangerous attempt to further restrict abortion in a state that’s already an abortion desert. Most cities in Texas still do not have an abortion clinic, and many people have no choice but to travel hundreds of miles each way to their nearest one. We cannot idly stand by as our right to bodily autonomy is repeatedly chipped away, leaving us in the middle of a political game where those with resources will always be able to access what they need. This is not the first time our government has implemented extreme anti-choice legislation that would ban abortion as early as six weeks, and we don’t anticipate this to be the last. We are sending the message loud and clear that Texans deserve better, and encourage you to join us in ways you can.
Here’s what you can do to get involved
- Stay up to date with local plaintiff groups (The Lilith Fund for Reproductive Equity, Frontera Fund, Jane’s Due Process, Fund Texas Choice, The Afiya Center, and Texas Equal Access Fund) involved in the lawsuit by following them on social media. They will be providing information surrounding SB8 as it becomes public and ensuring Texans stay informed on their rights, options, and resources available to access safe and legal abortion.
- Don’t perpetuate the stigma surrounding SB8. Many Texans are already feeling the impacts of the bill’s passage despite abortion beyond six weeks still being legal in Texas. Anti-choice restrictions like this cause mass confusion, misinformation, and instill fear in people navigating reproductive healthcare.
- Volunteer with your local abortion fund or practical support organization. Despite not knowing the outcome of the lawsuit right now, Texans seeking abortions still need your help, and it’s a great opportunity to network and connect with other folks in your community who feel as passionate about this as you do.
- Donate! You can donate to Whole Woman’s Health Alliance (another plaintiff) to support their legal work in this lawsuit, and you can also donate to local groups to help sustain their mission of providing financial assistance and other support to Texans seeking abortions.
Contact our clinic if you have questions
If you’re unsure about the current political landscape of abortion in Texas and want to speak with a clinic staff member, call our clinic Monday through Saturday between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. for more information. Like other local groups, our staff stays up to date on current Texas abortion law and can speak with you about our scheduling availability. We’ve received many calls from folks already who are concerned that abortion is illegal. While things can change from day to day, always trust the information given from a licensed abortion clinic (or trusted pro-choice groups) when it comes to the legality of abortion in Texas, not what you might read online elsewhere.
At Austin Women’s Health Center, providing you with high-quality and safe abortion care is our top priority. When legislation directly threatens our ability to provide our standards of care, we will do whatever we can to ensure abortion remains accessible—just as we did during HB2 (which shut the doors of our sister clinic, Killeen Women’s Health Center) in 2013, and more recently, the COVID bans on abortion in 2020. We want patients to know that they can count on us to advocate for their right to make decisions about their own reproductive lives, whether that’s parenting, adoption, or abortion. You are the expert on your own life, and we are so grateful to you for trusting us with your care. We won’t let you down.