CHICAGO - Illinois Governor JB Pritzker on Wednesday condemned the new abortion law in Texas.
Texas Senate Bill 8 eliminates the option of receiving an abortion after six weeks. The legislation has caused quite the controversy nationwide.
"An attack on reproductive freedom in Texas is an attack on reproductive freedom in Illinois and every state across the country. I’m proud that we passed the most comprehensive law in the nation to protect women’s rights to make their own health care decisions no matter what happens at the Supreme Court. But make no mistake—abortion rights are on the ballot in 2022 and Republicans will do everything in their power to strip them away. That’s why it’s so critical to elect Democrats up and down the ballot across Illinois," Pritzker said in a statement.
In 2019, Pritzker signed The Reproductive Health Act into law, which he calls the "most comprehensive abortion rights bill in the country."
The Texas law would be the most far-reaching restriction on abortion rights in the United States since the Supreme Court’s landmark Roe v. Wade decision legalized abortion across the country in 1973.
The Texas law, signed by Republican Gov. Greg Abbott in May, prohibits abortions once a heartbeat can be detected in a fetus, usually around six weeks and before most women know they’re pregnant.
"As of now, most abortion is banned in Texas," said Marc Hearron, a lawyer for the Center for Reproductive Rights, in a call with reporters Wednesday. Hearron said his group and the abortion providers it represents were still hoping to hear from the Supreme Court.
Abortion providers who are asking the Supreme Court to step in said the law would rule out 85% of abortions in Texas and force many clinics to close. Planned Parenthood is among the abortion providers that have stopped scheduling abortions beyond six weeks from conception.
Abortion rights advocates say the Texas law will force many women to travel out of state for abortions if they can afford to do so and also navigate issues including childcare and taking time off work. It is also expected to increase the number of women seeking to self-induce abortions using pills obtained by mail.
At least 12 other states have enacted bans on abortion early in pregnancy, but all have been blocked from going into effect.
What makes the Texas law different is its unusual enforcement scheme. Rather than have officials responsible for enforcing the law, private citizens are authorized to sue abortion providers and anyone involved in facilitating abortions. Among other situations, that would include anyone who drives a woman to a clinic to get an abortion. Under the law, anyone who successfully sues another person would be entitled to at least $10,000.
President Joe Biden said in a statement that the law "blatantly violates the constitutional right established under Roe v. Wade."
"The Texas law will significantly impair women’s access to the health care they need, particularly for communities of color and individuals with low incomes. And, outrageously, it deputizes private citizens to bring lawsuits against anyone who they believe has helped another person get an abortion," the statement reads in part.
Abortion opponents who wrote the law also made it difficult to challenge the law in court, in part because it’s hard to know whom to sue.