Does the New Texas Law Completely Ban Abortion?

A viral Instagram post claims that Texas banned abortion with Senate Bill 8, a bill that was passed by the Republican legislature and signed into law by Gov. Greg Abbott in May of this year. Abortion providers attempted to intervene and requested the Supreme Court block the law until legal challenges were heard. The court declined to do so, allowing SB8 to go into effect on September 1, 2021. 

As noted in a previous fact check, SB8 is not a full abortion ban, but a limitation on when abortions can be performed: 

“​​On May 19, Abbott signed a law stating that ‘a physician may not knowingly perform or induce an abortion on a pregnant woman unless the physician has determined … whether the woman’s unborn child has a detectable fetal heartbeat.’ The law creates an exception if the physician determines a medical emergency makes an abortion necessary. Critics have noted that fetal heartbeats can be detected as early as six weeks into a pregnancy, limiting the window in which a woman can legally seek an abortion in Texas.”

The law allows citizens, rather than the state, to sue anyone who performs or assists in procuring an abortion. Those found to have done so will, thus, be civilly instead of criminally liable, and will be made to pay “statutory damages in an amount of not less than $10,000 for each abortion.” Notably, SB8 does not allow for suits to be brought against women who recieve abortions after a heartbeat is detected.

While SB8 limits abortions, allowing them to occur only before a heartbeat is detected, it is misleading to describe the law as an abortion “ban.”

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