The Texas Senate’s vote Friday to pass harsh anti-abortion legislation, known as Senate Bill 8, isn’t as surprising as it is demoralizing. In a 22-9 vote, the state Senate adopted House modifications of SB8 approved last weekend.
The bill is now being sent to Gov. Greg Abbott for signing. It would take effect on Sept. 1.
SB8 is Texas lawmakers’ response to a Supreme Court ruling last year that struck down previous legislation targeting abortion clinics and doctors in the state. The current legislation likely faces an equally tough legal battle if Abbott signs it, which is expected.
As Fusion reported last week, SB8 mandates the burial or cremation of fetal remains from abortions. This is despite a judge having already suspended a state rule over the same issue. The requirement would be expensive and difficult to implement across the state, as burials and cremations potentially would cost thousands of dollars per abortion.
SB8 also bans the sale or donation of fetal tissue, a fake controversy promoted by anti-abortion activists and right-wing lawmakers that already is banned by federal law.
But the worst part of this piece of legislation, which attacks the fundamental right of women to access reproductive health care services, is its criminalization of second-trimester abortions known as dilation and evacuation, or as Texas lawmakers call it, “dismemberment abortions.”
According to lawmaker and former prosecutor Joe Moody, the bill’s language exposes almost anyone involved in an unlawful abortion to be charged with a state felony, from receptionists to bank tellers, The Texas Observer reported.
“If the goal is to prosecute people who perform these acts, what’s written here goes way beyond that,” Moody said last week while unsuccessfully introducing an amendment to clarify who specifically could be prosecuted.
The Observer noted:
“I think by rejecting my amendment, [opponents showed] their intent was not only to go after physicians. I guess I misunderstood,” Moody told the Observer. “[This bill] is so poorly drafted, so poorly worded, that I think it shows they’re not really concerned about making good policy.”
Planned Parenthood Texas Votes Executive Director Yvonne Gutierrez added, “This would be the legislature changing the safest method of abortion during this time,” Politico reported.
The New York-based Center for Reproductive Rights and other groups have promised to legally challenge SB8.