Texas passed the most stringent abortion bill in the United States: the Biden administration sued. What is the controversy over the bill?
China News Service, September 14th, according to the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) Chinese website, a few days ago, the U.S. Department of Justice filed a lawsuit against the controversial abortion law in Texas. U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland called this law “clearly unconstitutional.”
This bill, also known as the “Texas Heartbeat Act,” took effect a week ago. According to this law, abortion is prohibited after the fetus can detect the heartbeat (usually 6 weeks of pregnancy), and anyone can sue anyone who violates the regulations and participates in the abortion process.
American doctors and women’s rights groups strongly condemn this law. Some medical management agencies also claim that the fetal “heartbeat” in this law is misleading.
Prior to this, an abortion service provider filed an urgent appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, but the Federal Supreme Court ruled 5 to 4 to allow this law to take effect.
The Supreme Court stated in an unsigned opinion that although the appeal raised serious questions about the constitutionality of this law, the Supreme Court could not stop it due to complex and “emerging” procedural issues. Law comes into force.
Since the Supreme Court’s historic ruling in Rowe v. Wade in 1973, American women have always enjoyed the right to have an abortion before the fetus can survive outside the womb. This time point is usually between 22 and 24 weeks of pregnancy.
The so-called “Texas Heartbeat Act” prohibits abortion after six weeks of pregnancy. Many women do not know that they are pregnant at this point.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists stated that the so-called “heartbeat” is misleading. What can be detected at this stage is “fetal tissue that will become part of the heart as the embryo develops.”
The implementation of this law in Texas also takes an unusual approach: any ordinary citizen can sue anyone who “helps and abets” an illegal abortion under this law. The Associated Press reported that pregnant women themselves will not be prosecuted.
The bill gives the green light to medical emergencies, in which case documentary evidence from a doctor is required. However, pregnancy caused by rape or incest cannot be considered as an exception.
If there are Texas women who want to have an abortion after six weeks of pregnancy, they will need to cross state boundaries. The Guttmacher Institute, an American medical organization that supports abortion, estimates that they need to travel an average of 399 kilometers.
p >What is the difference in abortion restrictions under this law?
Before this, most of the restrictions on abortion were implemented based on criminal penalties or some form of regulatory penalties.
This law of Texas authorizes “private civil litigation rights” and allows people to sue to practice this law, even if the litigant himself may not have been harmed in any way.
Any ordinary American, regardless of whether they are in Texas or elsewhere, can seek damages of up to US$10,000 from abortion service providers and doctors in civil courts under this law. The object of their prosecution It can also include all people involved in the process.
Schwarz, an anti-abortion organization “Texas Right to Life”, told the BBC that most anti-abortion laws have been “shelved in the court system for many years” and that this situation “blocked people’s wishes.” .
But the American Civil Liberties Union and other critics who appealed to the Supreme Court believe that the bill will encourage the formation of “a bounty hunting mechanism” aimed at harassing women seeking abortion.
What did the Biden administration and Texas say?
Garland said that this is a “plan to make the U.S. Constitution ineffective” and that “all Americans, regardless of their political leanings and political parties, should be afraid of this.”
He said that the greater danger is that other states may follow the example of Texas on similar rights issues. He warned that if this is the case, the justice will also file a lawsuit.
Biden has previously condemned the Supreme Court’s decision, calling it an “unprecedented insult” to women’s rights.
Republicans are the majority in the Texas State Assembly. After being passed by the state legislature, this law was signed by Republican Texas Governor Abbott and went into effect on September 1. Abbott stated that Texas will “always defend the right to life” and “no freedom is more important than life itself.”
How do Americans view the right to abortion?
In the United States, abortion has always been one of the most controversial social topics. However, a poll conducted by the Pew Research Center shows that nearly 60% of Americans believe that abortion should be legal in any or most cases.
This figure has remained relatively stable over the past two decades, but it also conceals the bipartisan differences behind it-only 35% of Republicans support this view.
In the conservative majority of Texas, a poll in April 2021 showed that nearly half of voters in the state support the prohibition of abortion after six weeks of pregnancy.
In addition, in many states controlled by Republicans, other measures to restrict abortion have recently been introduced.
Idaho, Oklahoma, and South Carolina have also passed six-week bans, but they have not yet taken effect due to judicial challenges.
According to statistics from the Guttmacher Institute, since the ruling of Rowe v. Wade nearly 50 years ago, the number of abortion restrictions introduced in 2021 has exceeded any previous year.
The composition of Supreme Court justices makes the supporters of these measures more confident. At present, conservative justices are in the majority in the U.S. Supreme Court.
Americans who support women’s right to choose abortion worry that if given the opportunity, the conservative judges of the Supreme Court will choose to overturn the national abortion right. If so, although this does not mean that abortion will become illegal throughout the United States, the choice will be in the hands of states.
At the same time, some Democrat-led states such as New York have initiated measures to ensure that abortion opportunities are still protected in the above-mentioned situations.