SB8 deemed unconstitutional, Supreme Court Files lawsuit against Texas


Nicco Pelicano / Hilltop Views

Protests around the new, strict laws on abortion have begun outside of the Texas Capitol building in Austin. A crowd of predominantly women listen as the speaker proclaims that this law means the war on women is here.

On  Sept. 1, the Supreme Court voted 5-4 to effectively uphold Senate Bill 8 (SB8), a Texas abortion ban that would prevent abortions from being performed after the sixth week of pregnancy — usually well before a pregnancy is detected. On, Sept. 9, the Justice Department sued the State of Texas over this new abortion ban, citing that the law is unconstitutional, and stating in the lawsuit that Texas enacted the law “in open defiance of the Constitution.”

In light of this ruling and subsequent lawsuit, many are wondering what impact this law will have on women’s access to abortion and the future of reproductive rights. Because of this law, a private individual can sue those they believe are “aiding and abetting” the process of getting an abortion, giving ordinary citizens the power to effectively put a bounty on the heads of those seeking access to the procedure. 

Hilltop Views interviewed Cecile Richards, the daughter of former Texas Gov. Ann Richards and advocate for women’s reproductive rights. Cecile served as the president of Planned Parenthood for over a decade, and left in 2017. 

Starting in 1994, the Republican Party shifted gears, becoming dependent on the most extreme voters in their party, Richards said. This meant that the GOP took stances on issues that were more and more extreme,which included wanting to end access to safe, legal abortions. 

On the recent ruling, Richards lifted up Justice Sonya Sotomayor’s words and added, “The concept of creating a vigilante-style system where any citizen can file suit against a doctor, health care provider, taxi driver — anyone who helps a woman access abortion — this is unheard of today in the United States.” 

It’s largely unknown how this decision will affect what the court does in the future.  “This will make it much clearer just how dire of a situation we are in under this court.” “It is so critical that people understand if abortion can be outlawed in the second largest state in the country, it can happen anywhere,” Richards said.

Dawn Laguens, current resident of Planned Parenthood Global, who worked alongside Richards as executive vice president, said Catholic countries are increasing their support of abortion rights, pointing to recent changes in the law in Ireland and Mexico. She added, “there is a disconnect between what people assume to be the views of Catholic people and what the church says the views of Catholic people should be.” 

St. Edward’s University student Veronica Lopez, 22,  is pro-choice and shared her observations of attending a Catholic university.  “[This is} an environment in which people of all points of view have a place where they can feel comfortable and heard.” Lopez shared, however, that her understanding of  St. Edward’s cannot speak for her experience of the Catholic faith as a whole. 

Abortion will remain contested as the days are long. But we, those who identify as pro-choice, will not stop until access to safe and legal abortion is provided everywhere.