Seeking to build on its long history of dealing blows to reproductive rights, on Tuesday, Texas passed a law that effectively bans second-trimester abortions, and also prohibits donation of fetal tissue and requires fetuses to be buried or cremated.
SB8, signed off on by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, bans the dilation and evacuation procedure, which is used to safely terminate a pregnancy after about 12 weeks gestation. Essentially, having a safe abortion in the second trimester will soon be illegal in the state of Texas, and women seeking second trimester abortions will either have to travel out of state or resort to more dangerous methods.
It’s worth remembering that in 2015, a shocking study revealed more than 100,000 Texas women admitted they had once tried to induce an abortion. Abortion restrictions famously don’t reduce rates of abortion, but only burden, shame and ultimately endanger them.
While abortion complications become more likely with the weeks of pregnancy, medical experts overwhelmingly agree that abortion in the second trimester — most often through the dilation and evacuation procedure — is not only safe, with low rates of mortality and complications, but also necessary. In 2004, 12 percent of abortions in the United States took place in the second trimester.
— NARAL Pro-Choice TX (@naraltx) June 6, 2017
SB8 additionally requires women to pay a fee to ensure that their aborted fetus is buried or cremated, adding on to the substantial financial burden women must shoulder to have the procedure. Federal law currently prohibits federal funding from paying for abortion except in cases of rape and incest, and this has the effect of endangering poor women and limiting their reproductive rights to appease people of faith.
SB8 first gained national attention when newspapers reported on how it could potentially send people to jail for driving women to have an abortion. The bill, which passed the House on May 26, recognizes anyone even remotely involved in the process of a woman getting an abortion as an accessory to a crime.
The D+E is the safest, most-common second-trimester abortion procedure and would be a crime under #SB8
— Whole Woman's Health (@WholeWomans) June 6, 2017
Despite how the bill is in stark violation of numerous tenets of the 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling legalizing abortion, Gov. Abbott signed off on it nonetheless.
Abbott has previously signed other extreme anti-abortion bills into law, such as a fetal burial law that federal courts struck down months later. Texas is also the state where TRAP laws, or the targeted regulation of abortion providers, originated. These medically unnecessary and expensive requirements placed on abortion clinics were ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court last year in Whole Women’s Health v. Hellerstedt, but not before decimating abortion clinics in Texas. Earlier this year, Texas also attempted to defund Planned Parenthood.
SB8 will likely be challenged in federal courts, and will hopefully meet the same fate that laws similar to it previously have.