How does someone in Texas get an abortion now and what’s next?

The vast majority of people in 德克萨斯州 can effectively no longer access an abortion in the state after it banned the procedure except in the earliest weeks of pregnancy often before most know they are pregnant.

在一个 5-4 vote on Wednesday, the US supreme court refused to block the law, which permits private citizens to enforce the ban and possibly collect $10,000 if they win a case against a person helping someone obtain the medical procedure.

Here’s what you should know about the most restrictive abortion law in the US:

To obtain an abortion in Texas under the law, a person would have to realize they are pregnant very early in gestation.

The law bans abortions once a medical professional can detect cardiac activity in an embryo, usually in the first five to six weeks of a pregnancy. Cardiac activity does not confirm the pregnancy is viable and is detected with advanced technology before a heart is formed.

The law includes a narrow exemption for “medical emergencies” but there is not an exemption for rape or incest.

Doctors start the pregnancy clock from the day of a person’s last menstrual period. 所以, someone with an average 28-day menstrual cycle would be considered four weeks pregnant the first day they missed their period.

That leaves a two-week window to confirm the pregnancy and make a decision about how to manage it – though many women have irregular periods, which would shrink that window. Others don’t track their cycle or can’t easily afford the cost of a pregnancy test or doctor’s appointment.

Texas abortion providers and reproductive rights groups said 85% 到 90% of the procedures happen there after the sixth week of pregnancy.

A full-term pregnancy is 39 周数. Before the supreme court’s decision in Texas, Roe v Wade stopped laws that banned abortion before a fetus is viable outside the womb, generally regarded as 24 周数.

Crucially, it has survived a challenge in the nation’s highest court. The supreme court has previously blocked states from banning abortions before a pregnancy is viable but let this one through in a decision just before midnight on Wednesday.

Other laws which prohibit abortions after six weeks have passed but were blocked in court before they went into effect.

This law is also unique in that it is being enforced by individuals, not government officials, which makes it more difficult to challenge in court.

是的. Private citizens, including people who live outside Texas, can sue anyone they think may have “aided or abetted” someone getting an abortion after six weeks. If they win the suit, they get $10,000 and their legal fees are covered. It’s intentionally broad and could penalize family and friends who drive people to appointments or help pay for transportation there.

In a federal lawsuit challenging the law, a coalition of abortion providers and reproductive rights groups said the law “places a bounty on people who provide or aid abortions, inviting random strangers to sue them”.

The effects of this law will not be felt equally.

Researchers at the University of Texas said the law would particularly affect Black patients and people living on low incomes. The main reasons Texans are already delayed in obtaining the procedure are because they need to find the money to pay for it, they live far from the facility and time constraints for travel to the procedure because of work, school and childcare.

When access to abortion is limited, it is likely unsafe abortions increase. Each year, 之间 4.7% 和 13.2% of maternal deaths are attributed to unsafe abortion, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). The WHO said nearly every death and disability from abortion could be prevented through sex education, contraception and access to safe abortions.

It was already difficult to get an abortion in Texas and in its neighboring states. Those few clinics in outside states have said they are already seeing an increase in people booking medical appointments.

But again, the people who have the means to easily leave the state are the least likely to need the medical procedure. Abortion funds are collecting money to help women make the journey, but it is no small endeavor. As well, abortion funds could be targeted by this law.

Texas is nearly three times the size of the UK and if its boundaries were overlaid on Europe, 巴黎, Amsterdam, Prague and Florence could all be in the state’s geography.

Multiple lawsuits are still pending in Texas and civil disobedience is in full force, 和 protests under way and donations pouring into abortion funds and reproductive rights groups. The Texas-based immigration legal services group Raices said it would continue to fund and support access to abortions. “We want to send a very clear message: Raices will not obey this archaic and sexist law,” said the group’s CEO and president, Jonathan Ryan, 在一份声明中.

The president said on Thursday that he was directing the White House gender policy council to respond to this decision with help from the health department and the justice department “​​to ensure that women in Texas have access to safe and legal abortions”. The speaker of the House, 南希佩洛西, said when Congress returns from recess, Democrats will introduce a reproductive health bill, but it is extremely unlikely that would pass in the Senate.

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