Yesterday, September 1, the Texas anti-abortion law, known as Senate Bill 8, went into effect. Senate Bill 8 undermines Roe v. Wade and blocks access to abortion after 6 weeks of pregnancy, effectively taking away a woman’s right to choose. The impact deprives Texas women of nearly all options for abortion services. SFWPC strongly condemns this assault on women’s self-autonomy.
Limiting access to reproductive healthcare, including systematically stripping people of all genders from accessing abortion, is not only a transgression against basic human reproductive rights but is also an assault on dignity and autonomy. While access to abortion is the forefront concern regarding SB8, the debate surrounding it is emblematic of the continued work to subvert the rights of women. This is reflective of the resistance women and allies have made throughout history to defend their basic humanity. As an organization that refuses to entertain assertions that the dignity and autonomy of women is open to negotiation, SFWPC firmly rejects SB 8.
Senate Bill 8, is the strictest abortion ban in the nation. It bans abortion as soon as cardiac activity (heartbeat) is detectable. Six weeks is only two weeks after a missed period, assuming a 28 day menstrual cycle. This is before many, if not most, women know that they are pregnant. This amounts to a nearly complete ban on abortion in Texas as 85% of abortion procedures in the state happen after the sixth week of pregnancy.
This Texas law sets a dangerous precedent and puts reproductive freedom across the nation at risk. On August 31, the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) declined to prematurely block Senate Bill 8 from going into effect, and yesterday, on September 1, SCOTUS declined to block SB 8 in a 5-4 ruling.
In dissenting, SCOTUS Justice Sonia Sotomayor said: “The court’s order is stunning, presented with an application to enjoin a flagrantly unconstitutional law engineered to prohibit women from exercising their constitutional rights and evade judicial scrutiny, a majority of justices have opted to bury their heads in the sand.”
Justice Sotomayor wrote. “The court should not be so content to ignore its constitutional obligations to protect not only the rights of women but also the sanctity of its precedents and of the rule of law.”
This Texas law is drafted to make it difficult to challenge in court. Usually, a lawsuit seeking to block a law due to its unconstitutionality would be against state officials. However, the Texas law instead deputizes private individuals to sue anyone who performs the procedure or “aids and abets” it. Essentially, delegating enforcement of the prohibition to the populace at large. The Court has never dealt with this question.
As a result of SB 8, access to a safe abortion in Texas will no longer be available. Women in Texas will now be forced to travel to other states or even carry out a pregnancy that is against their will. Make no mistake – abortion will continue, as it has throughout history. Now, women will still seek dangerous ways to have a procedure done in secret, even if it means risking their own life. Low-income Black and Brown women will be disappropriately effected by the abortion ban. 20% of Black and Brown women in Texas live in poverty and won’t have the means to seek treatment out-of-state.
Prior to SB 8, access to an abortion was already difficult for women in Texas. Many women received biased couseling before seeking treatment, and they also deal with pro-life groups shaming them for the choice they are making about their bodies. Abortion providers and supporters will face legal attack with the new Texas anti-abortion law in place.
The San Francisco Women’s Political Committee is committed to advocating and fighting to protect the access to reproductive care. We solemnly believe women and women alone hold the right to make decisions about their bodies and futures. We call on all our elected officials to use their voice, platform, responsibility, and influence to enact safeguards for women’s reproductive rights whether locally, at the state level, or federally. And we call on our members and allies to join our board members in donating to organizations supporting safe access to abortion in Texas.
Signed & In Solidarity,
Organizations/Health Centers at Risk/Need Help in Texas:
- Planned Parenthood (many health centers across the state)
- Whole Woman’s Health (operates fours clinics in Texas)
- Southwestern Women’s Surgical Center
- Austin Women’s Health Center
- Alamo Women’s Reproductive Services
- Houston Women’s Reproductive Services
Abortion Funds to Support in Texas: