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What’s up with SB 8 in Texas? 

And how is access to abortion care different in New York?

Senate Bill 8, or SB 8, has been in the news a lot lately. This new, unconstitutional law took effect in the state of Texas on September 1 and bans abortion after around six weeks of gestation—before most people even know they’re pregnant.

Most people won’t have a positive pregnancy test until four or five weeks. That means to get an abortion, a pregnant person would have a week, maybe two at most to: suspect they may be pregnant, get a positive pregnancy text, make an appointment, have an ultrasound, wait 24 hours, and then have a second appointment with the same provider in order to comply with Texas law. Sometimes referred to as a “heartbeat bill,” SB 8 unconstitutionally prohibits physicians from providing abortion care once cardiac activity is detectable in the embryo at five to six weeks gestation, with no exception for rape, incest, or fetal anomaly.

SB 8 will disproportionately impact BIPOC people, people with low incomes, and people in rural areas due to systemic inequity and other immense barriers to health care. Texas patients will now have to travel 20 times further to access an abortion, increasing driving times an average of three and a half hours each way. Because of this ban, 84% of people seeking abortion in Texas will be unable to access it in-state, with an estimated 46% of people seeking abortion in Texas being forced to carry their pregnancies to term against their will.

Alarmingly, this law removes the state from the equation and puts power into the hands of private citizens—meaning people who help or intend to help someone get an abortion after six weeks could be sued by a neighbor, distant relative, abusive partner, or even a stranger from out of state, and for every successful claim, that “bounty hunter” would be awarded $10,000.

Although abortion is still legal in all 50 states, that doesn’t mean this essential reproductive health care is accessible to all who need it. Rural and other marginalized communities continue to have limited access to a broad range of health care options.

The Reproductive Health Care Act (RHA) was passed into law in New York in February 2019. This law codifies Roe v. Wade into state law and helps ensure access to safe, legal abortion in New York State. With the RHA, abortion is legal until the 24th week of gestation, and exceptions can be made later in pregnancy if the pregnant person’s health or life are at risk or if the fetus is not viable. Choosing to end a pregnancy is a personal decision and should be up to the pregnant person in consultation with their doctor—not politicians.

PPCWNY is proud to provide essential reproductive health care, including access to abortion.