Go to Content Go to Navigation Go to Navigation Go to Site Search Homepage

Everything You Need to Know About SB8, Texas' Latest Extreme Abortion Restriction

Planned Parenthood Texas affiliates have joined a federal lawsuit to block SB 8, Texas’ radical new abortion law, from going into effect on September 1.

What is SB 8?

Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed Senate Bill 8 into law on May 19, 2021. Sometimes referred to as the “heartbeat bill,” SB 8 is one of the most extreme abortion bans in the entire nation. It would ban abortion in Texas at approximately six weeks — before most people even know they’re pregnant — with no exceptions for rape or incest.

For people with a regular menstrual cycle, that’s just two weeks after a missed period.

SB 8 is different from other abortion bans because it contains a “private cause of action,” which is a legal provision that allows private individuals — not the state — to enforce the law

This provision lets anyone sue an abortion provider and anyone else who helps a patient access abortion care that is prohibited by SB 8. Anyone who successfully sues an abortion provider will be entitled to at least $10,000 and a court order preventing them from providing abortions in the future.

That means anyone, anywhere in the country — from anti-abortion protesters to out-of-state lobbyists — can sue an abortion provider, abortion funds, or anyone who “aids and abets” someone seeking an abortion, regardless of whether they are directly involved or even know the patient.

This is a new tactic by opponents of abortion designed to make it harder to challenge the ban in court.

But make no mistake: Abortion is still safe and legal throughout Texas and in all 50 states. Our health centers are open for patients to get the care they need, including abortion, and we’re suing to prevent this law from taking effect.

On July 13, 2021, Planned Parenthood affiliates in Texas joined a broad coalition of abortion providers, doctors, clergy, abortion funds, and practical support networks across the state in filing a federal lawsuit to block SB 8 before it goes into effect on September 1.

Every person should be able to make their own decisions about their health and their bodies. SB 8 is blatantly unconstitutional and represents a full-scale assault on patients, their health care providers, and their support systems. Read our full lawsuit here.

Statement from Melaney A. Linton, President & CEO, Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast and Planned Parenthood Center for Choice:

“At Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast, we believe that all individuals must be free to control their own bodies and make their own private medical decisions without interference from anyone — least of all politicians and, should SB 8 take effect, virtual strangers deputized by the state to enforce a blatantly unconstitutional law.

“It is unthinkable that anti-abortion extremists could be allowed to stand in the way of people accessing essential health care. And SB 8 goes even further by incentivizing those extremists to pursue frivolous lawsuits against anyone who helps a person access the health care they need, which has dangerous implications for our patients, our health centers, our communities, and our entire legal system.

“While the legal strategy may be new, the intent is not: Planned Parenthood has been on the frontlines for more than a decade of concerted attacks on abortion, and SB 8 could decimate what little access remains in Texas. The courts must step in and block this cruel and egregious law on behalf of our patients, who deserve so much better.”

Planned Parenthood and SB 8 in the news

Texas Tribune: Twenty abortion providers sue Texas officials over law that bans abortions as early as six weeks

The Guardian: Planned Parenthood files lawsuit against Texas’s extreme abortion ban

Rolling Stone: An Abortion Provider Discusses His Biggest Fears Over Texas’ Abortion ‘Bounty’ Law

Insider: Why getting an abortion before 6 weeks of pregnancy is almost ‘impossible’

Insider: The Texas ‘heartbeat ban’ isn’t medically accurate because there’s no heart that early in pregnancy, providers say

Insider: A 13-year-old who was raped by her grandfather traveled hours across Texas to get an abortion. She wouldn't have been able to under the state's new 6-week ban.

Autumn's Story

“When I was 18, I found myself trapped in an abusive relationship, and I unexpectedly became pregnant as a freshman in college. The pregnancy caused my partner to become even more abusive, and my family believed he might seriously injure or even kill me. One night, he drove me out to the middle of nowhere and put a gun to my head.

I knew I couldn’t stay pregnant, and I chose to get an abortion. I knew then that it was the right choice for me, and I’ve never regretted it. I traveled over an hour to Houston to access abortion at Planned Parenthood. It was simple, safe, and life-changing in only the best ways. I felt in control of my life for the first time since I began the relationship with my abuser, and I finally found the courage to end it. Continuing the pregnancy would have meant that my abuser would be a constant fixture in my life, and, because the escalating abuse could have been fatal, I truly believe that my abortion is the reason I am alive today.

My abortion allowed me to finally escape my abusive relationship, finish university in four years, begin a now 15-year career, and find a new, healthy relationship with a loving partner.

I was past 6 weeks pregnant when I had my abortion, so if SB 8 had been law at that time, I might not be here today to tell this story. And accessing abortion has become even more difficult today than it was then. Everyone deserves the same basic respect of being trusted to make their own private medical decisions, in the simplest possible way, just like I did.”

Help us fight back!

Share Your Story.

Everyone loves someone who’s had an abortion, and your voice matters in the fight to protect reproductive rights and access to essential health care. What does safe and legal abortion mean to you? How has abortion care impacted your life? 
 

Share Your Story

Donate now.

Chip in today to ensure Planned Parenthood’s doors stay open for patients — no matter what. Your gift of any amount sends a strong message to Texans whose rights have been under near-constant attack for years: I stand with you, I support you, and I will fight to protect your ability to access the essential health care you need. 
 

Make A Gift

Get involved.

There are a number of opportunities to take action, volunteer, and stand with Planned Parenthood. Your support is vital to the success of our organization, and we value each gift of time as an investment in the health and well-being of our community.

Learn More

Statement from Dr. Bhavik Kumar, abortion care provider at Planned Parenthood Center for Choice

“This cruel and dangerous law is among the most extreme in the entire nation — and tragically par for the course here in Texas, where it’s already prohibitively difficult for people to access sexual and reproductive health care. SB 8 bans abortion at approximately six weeks, before most people even know they’re pregnant and before they’ve had the opportunity to consider their options. Considering the time it takes to confirm a pregnancy, make a decision, schedule an appointment, and comply with the existing web of medically unnecessary restrictions in Texas, a six-week ban essentially amounts to an outright ban on access to abortion care.

We already know that bans like SB 8 don’t stop people from needing — and getting — abortions. Just as they did last spring when Gov. Abbott exploited the pandemic to temporarily ban abortion care in Texas, people with the resources to travel out of state will do so, and those without the resources may take measures into their own hands. Last spring, I saw first-hand the devastating impact this had on my patients when they were cruelly denied the care they desperately needed.

SB 8 will cause many people to suffer unnecessarily in pursuit of care they are unable to access safely within their own communities. We know that the people who are navigating the many layers of systemic marginalization will suffer the most: Black and brown people and people with low incomes. My patients deserve better. They deserve to make their own health care decisions in consultation with their provider, without political interference, and without the threat of frivolous lawsuits. Instead, the people of Texas are being robbed of their bodily autonomy and politicians are jeopardizing the health and safety of pregnant people.

At least for now, SB 8 is not in effect, and abortion remains safe and legal throughout Texas. As always, Planned Parenthood will continue to stand with the people of Texas and we will do everything we can to protect our patients’ right and ability to access abortion and all essential health care.”