Pro-choice groups sue to block Texas six-week abortion ban

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Abortion providers and pro-choice advocates filed a federal lawsuit this week, asking the court to halt a Texas law going into effect that bans abortion after six weeks and allows private citizens to sue abortion providers for violating the law.

The pro-choice advocates said Texas’s new legislation, which is set to go into effect Sept. 1, makes it so any private citizen — including pro-life activists — can sue individuals providing an abortion in violation of the six-week ban. If the lawsuit were to be successful, the abortion provider could be subject to at least a $10,000 fine.

The Center for Reproductive Rights and allied groups launched the lawsuit on Tuesday to block the law, saying it would force abortion providers to spend massive amounts of money defending themselves in court and will subject them to harassment.

“If this oppressive law takes effect, it will decimate abortion access in Texas–and that’s exactly what it is designed to do,” said Nancy Northup, president of the Center for Reproductive Rights. “The state has put a bounty on the head of any person or entity who so much as gives a patient money for an abortion after six weeks of pregnancy, before most people know they are pregnant.”

They’re suing a number of defendants including state judges, clerks, and Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton.

Mr. Paxton’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment about the litigation.

The case has been assigned to Judge Robert Pitman, an Obama appointee.

In Texas, 85 to 90% of women who get an abortion are more than six weeks into their pregnancy, according to the Center for Reproductive Rights, which argues that means the new law would effectively upend abortion services in the state.

Since the Supreme Court decided in 1973 that women had a national right to abortion in the case of Roe v Wade, pro-life advocates and conservative states have aimed to chip away at that ruling.

At least eight states have tried to ban abortion after six weeks, but none of those laws have gone into effect, according to the Guttmacher Institute.

The Supreme Court has agreed to decide if Mississippi’s ban on abortion after 15 weeks runs afoul of its Roe v Wade ruling during its next term. 

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