DALLAS (NewsNation Now) — The nation’s highest court has allowed a Texas law banning most abortions to remain in effect, marking a turning point for abortion opponents who have been fighting to implement stronger restrictions for nearly a decade.
The Texas law, pegged a “fetal heartbeat bill,” bans abortions at the point of the “first detectable heartbeat,” which could happen around six weeks into pregnancy. However, that timeframe isn’t specified in the measure. Medical experts say the heart doesn’t begin to form until the fetus is at least nine weeks old, and they decry efforts to promote abortion bans by relying on medical inaccuracies.
The new law is being met with mixed reactions from coast to coast — both staunch criticism and some strong praise in the Bible Belt. This is the country’s biggest curb on abortion rights since the U.S. Supreme Court established the right to abortion in the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling.
There are no exceptions for rape or incest and narrowly drawn exceptions for protecting the life of the mother. President Joe Biden called it an assault on constitutional rights under Roe v. Wade.
The law also allows private citizens to sue anyone involved in an abortion, from the performing doctor to the Uber driver who drove the patient to the clinic. Anyone who successfully sues another person in an abortion case is entitled to $10,000.
“The most pernicious thing about the Texas law — it sort of creates a vigilante system where people get rewards — anyways, it almost seems, I know this sounds ridiculous, almost un-American,” President Joe Biden said in response to that reward system.
Nonetheless, at least 13 other states with Republican-dominated legislatures have adopted similar bans, although courts have blocked them all from being implemented. On Thursday, at least half a dozen states said they’d consider pushing bills similar to Texas’ with its citizen-enforcement provision. Those states include Mississippi, Arkansas, Florida, Indiana and the Dakotas.
Oklahoma is gearing up for its own fight — in November, the state’s similar law criminalizing abortions takes effect. Republican state Rep. Todd Russ is the author of the bill.
“So, if we have no abortion clinics in Oklahoma, that means we don’t have people killing babies in Oklahoma,” Russ said.
There are at least 7 million women of childbearing age in Texas. Doctors predict that some 85 percent of patients who wish to have an abortion will not be able to access that care, and they’ll be required to leave the state, which will create the need for additional money many patients can’t afford.
Dating apps like Bumble and Match Group, which owns several popular dating apps including Tinder and Hinge, are now creating relief funds for women affected by the Texas law. For example, Match Group’s CEO sent a companywide email this week announcing a relief fund for its employees and their dependents who find themselves affected by this law.