From NPR, Associated Press, The Guardian & Catholic News Agency - A new law went into effect in Texas on Wednesday that bans abortions once a heartbeat can be detected, which typically begins around six weeks into a pregnancy. The law also permits private citizens to bring forth civil suits and sue both abortion providers and anyone who assists a woman in getting an illegal abortion and makes no exceptions for cases involving rape or incest.
Under the new law, anyone who successfully sues an abortion provider could be awarded at least $10,000.
The law also affects clinic nurses, abortion fund workers, domestic violence and rape crisis counselors and family members who offer car rides to clinics. All of these people can now potentially be sued under the new law if they assist in an illegal abortion in any form.
Abortion rights advocates filed a suit against the law in July; however, the fifth circuit court of appeals cancelled the scheduled August 30th hearing and denied the plaintiff's request to allow the district court to block the law. Abortion rights advocates then appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, but the court failed to act before the law went into effect.
Planned Parenthood, who operates 11 clinics in Texas, and Whole Woman's Health clinics stated that they plan to comply with the new law despite it being contrary to their best medical practices.
At least 12 other states have tried passing similar laws in years prior, but all of those laws have been challenged by abortion-rights advocates and eventually blocked by federal courts.
Pro-life groups have pledged their assistance to women who face unplanned pregnancies through counseling services, adoption services, pre-natal childbirth education, infant parenting classes, and through providing maternity and infant supplies.
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