Texas Abortion Bill That Allows Anyone to Sue Over Procedures Signed Into Law

Texas Republican Governor Greg Abbott on Wednesday signed into law a bill that will allow anyone to sue doctors or anyone else who helps a woman get an abortion.

The law bans abortions before many women even know they are pregnant, but with a unique provision that essentially leaves enforcement to private citizens through lawsuits against doctors or anyone who helps a woman get an abortion.

Even someone outside of Texas would be able to sue a provider to helper and seek financial damages of up to $10,000 per defendant.

The law puts Texas in line with more than a dozen other states that ban abortions after the detection of a fetal heartbeat, as early as six weeks. Federal courts have mostly blocked the measures from taking effect.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

Pro-Choice Activists March in DC
Texas Republican Governor Greg Abbott on Wednesday signed into law a bill that will allow anyone to sue doctors or anyone else who helps a woman get an abortion. Above, pro-choice activists supporting legal access to abortion protest outside the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., on March 4, 2020. Saul Loeb/Getty Images

With the Supreme Court this week agreeing to take up a Mississippi law that bans abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy, abortion rights activists worry that a ruling favorable to the state could lay the groundwork for allowing even more abortion restrictions, including so-called heartbeat bills.

Critics say the provision would allow abortion opponents to flood the courts with lawsuits to harass doctors, patients, nurses, domestic violence counselors, a friend who drove a woman to a clinic, or even a parent who paid for a procedure.

Texas law currently bans abortion after 20 weeks, with exceptions for a woman with a life-threatening medical condition or if the fetus has a severe abnormality. More than 90% of abortions take place in the first 13 weeks of a woman's pregnancy, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The Supreme Court will probably hear the Mississippi case in the fall, with a decision likely in spring 2022.

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Pro-Life Activist Holds Model Fetus
Texas Republican Governor Greg Abbott on Wednesday signed into law a bill that will allow anyone to sue doctors or anyone else who helps a woman get an abortion. Above, a pro-life activist holds a model fetus during a demonstration in front of the U.S. Supreme Court on June 29, 2020, in Washington, D.C. Alex Wong/Getty Images