On Sept. 1, the so-called “Texas Heartbeat Act” went into effect, banning abortions at around six weeks, when most women still don’t realize they’re pregnant. Now, GOP-led states are scrambling to follow Texas’ lead while liberal state legislatures are rushing to protect reproductive rights.
In response to the anti-abortion law, Democratic Illinois state Rep. Kelly Cassidy filed The EXpanding Abortion Services (TEXAS) Act last week.
“We are already a destination state for folks seeking reproductive health care when their states are hostile,” Cassidy said. “And so I also believe that we have to be prepared for what Texas has done and what other states are now copying: Texas’ actions.”
Texas’ abortion ban allows private citizens to sue abortion providers as well as anyone who “aids and abets” the procedure in violation of the law. Those who bring a successful suit could be awarded a minimum of $10,000 as a “bounty.”
Conversely, Illinois’ TEXAS Act would mean that anyone who causes an unplanned pregnancy or commits a sexual or domestic assault could be sued for at least $10,000. Of that fine, $5,000 would go to a fund ensuring that Texans and others who flee their home state in search of reproductive care can pay for it in Illinois.
Under the proposed law, the person responsible for causing the unwanted pregnancy, domestic violence or sexual assault — or anyone who enabled such actions — would be made to pay the damages.
Throughout her adult life, Cassidy said she’s had the fight to protect access to reproductive health care “over and over again.”
“There’s no end of creativity from the other side, who seek to police our bodies and control our bodies and take away bodily autonomy,” she said. “This is a shift in tactic; it’s going to have serious reverberations around the country.”
Still, some are openly flouting Texas' new law. Over the weekend, a San Antonio doctor revealed he’d performed an abortion in violation of the ban because he felt he “had a duty of care” to the patient.
After Texas’ Heartbeat Act went into effect earlier this month, national Democratic politicians warned that other states could soon follow suit. The issue was front-of-mind leading up to last week’s California recall election, during which Republicans led an unsuccessful attempt to oust Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom.
"Whether they are following in our footsteps or reacting to us, all eyes are on Texas.” – Jason Vaughn, Texas Young Republicans
Some have credited Texas’ anti-abortion law with mobilizing Democratic voters in California. Ahead of the election, Massachusetts U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren warned that other states could roll out similar measures: "The fight that's going on nationally has come to California," she told ABC News.
After the U.S. Supreme Court allowed Texas’ anti-abortion law to take effect earlier this month, GOP leadership elsewhere took note.
Republican lawmakers in Arkansas, Florida, South Dakota, North Dakota and Indiana are thinking of using Texas’ bill as a blueprint for similar legislation, according to Newsweek. Mississippi state Sen. Chris McDaniel told The Associated Press he would “absolutely” consider following Texas’ lead.
"I think most conservative states in the South will look at this inaction by the court and will see that as perhaps a chance to move on that issue," he said.
Jason Vaughn, policy director for the Texas Young Republicans, said Texas is leading the way on many issues nationwide, which is “always a good thing.” Texans should want their leaders to take bold stances, he said.
Vaughn said abortion should be a states’ issue — not a national one — adding that prior to the landmark Roe v. Wade decision, it had been.
Some Texans upset with the new law have mulled moving out of state to escape what they view as restrictive legislation. But Vaughn said he isn’t too worried about them running off, especially given the number of folks moving to Texas because of its economy and tax rates.
“If people want to go spend more money so they can have an abortion, that’s up to them," he said.
Texas is rife with political pioneers — whether or not one agrees with their policies, Vaughn added.
“Texas leadership — from the House to the Senate to Gov. Abbott — are all extremely bold leaders that have set forth a path that the nation is following,” he said. “And whether they are following in our footsteps or reacting to us, all eyes are on Texas.”