A Texas law that bans most abortions after six weeks of pregnancy went into effect Wednesday, despite the Supreme Court’s refusal to intervene before the midnight deadline.
The measure signed into law by Republican Gov. Greg Abbott in May prohibits abortion providers from conducting abortions once a fetal heartbeat is detected. It would effectively outlaw at least 85% of the abortions sought in the state, according to opponents of the law, since that point is around six weeks into the pregnancy before some women know they’re pregnant.
The law took effect early Wednesday morning after the Supreme Court and a federal appeals court did not rule on attempts to block it.
It was passed amid a slew of restrictions that were approved by GOP legislatures across the country this year after the confirmation of JusticeAmy Coney Barrett jerked the Supreme Court further to right and made it more likely that the court will scale back or reverse entirely Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 decision that enshrined a constitutional right to an abortion before the fetus is viable.
But among those restrictions, the Texas bill stands out for the novel approach it takes in curtailing the procedure.
Rather than imposing criminal or regulatory punishment for those who conduct abortions after the point in the pregnancy, the state law created a so-called “private right of action” to enforce the restriction. Essentially, the legislature deputized private citizens to bring civil litigation with the threat of $10,000 or more in damages against providers or even anyone who helped a woman access abortion after six weeks.