Update: Texas is already one of the states with the most restrictions when it comes to abortion, and a new sweeping law will only made it even harder for women to end a pregnancy.
On Tuesday, Gov. Greg Abbott signed into law the controversial Senate Bill 8, commonly known as SB8. The law requires foetal remains to be buried or cremated, prohibits the donation of foetal tissue to research, and bans the procedure medically known as dilation and extraction, which is one of the most common ways to end a pregnancy in the second semester.
The Center for Reproductive Rights said it would challenge the law in court, and other women's rights groups are expected to join the fight. The legal procedures would put Texas in the center of the national battle for abortion access once again.
"Texas politicians haven’t learned their lesson, continuing to pass sweeping restrictions which interfere with a woman’s right to safe, legal abortion," Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights, said in a statement. "The Center for Reproductive Rights has long stood with Texas women to ensure their constitutional rights are respected and protected. We took Texas all the way to the Supreme Court last year and won — and will continue to challenge any laws which rob women of their rights and freedoms."
This story was originally published on June 1, 2017.
Anti-abortion lawmakers in Texas are at it again.
On Friday, state lawmakers passed Senate Bill 8, better known as SB8, which would add multiple new restrictions on women seeking to end a pregnancy and doctors performing abortions. The law now awaits Gov. Greg Abbott's expected signature.
Texas is already one of the most restrictive states when it comes to abortion, and this bill would only make it harder for women to end a pregnancy. If signed, SB8 would prohibit donating fetal tissue and cord blood from abortions and miscarriages. It would also ban "dismemberment" and "partial-birth" abortions, the stigmatising names given to abortion procedures medically known as dilation and extraction in which a foetus is extracted in parts or intact respectively, both of which are typically used for second trimester abortions.
Some of these mandates are redundant, as selling foetal tissue and removing intact foetuses in abortion procedures are already illegal nationwide. But the proposed law goes much further by prohibiting donating foetal tissue to research (even without receiving money), requiring that foetal remains be buried or cremated, and banning the commonly used form of dilation and extraction without exemptions for rape or incest cases.
The language used in SB8 describes dilation and extraction abortions as delivering a "living foetus" and a "living unborn child," which serves to legally classify foetuses as living people and abortion as murder. The bill also says doctors who perform dilation and extraction will have committed a felony, punishable with jail time, and deems donating foetal tissue a Class A misdemeanour, punishable by a fine up to $10,000 (£8,000).
But wait, it gets worse.
Another Texas law mandates that people can be held "criminally responsible" for another's actions if they assisted or promoted said actions in any way. That means anyone who assists in a banned abortion procedure could go be charged with a crime, and it could go as far as criminalising driving someone to get an abortion.
It's likely some of the provisions will be held up in court, as similar laws have been in the past. Texas already tried to force women to bury foetal remains through a state health department rule, but it was blocked by a federal judge in January. And Texas' last sweeping abortion measure was struck down by the Supreme Court last year.
In the meantime, feel free to contact Gov. Greg Abbott's office and let him know how you feel about the harmful bill.