Elections matter. The Supreme Court matters. There is no more heartbreaking evidence of these truths than Texas, where, this week, abortion is effectively banned for the first time since the Roe v. Wade decision in 1973.
The Texas legislature’s SB 8 went into effect at midnight on September 1, after the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals canceled a hearing on the law and the Supreme Court stayed silent despite requests to block the Texas law. This extreme law bans abortion at six weeks of pregnancy, before most people even know they’re pregnant.
Unlike similar abortion bans in other states, which are designed to be enforced by state officials, this law gives the general public unprecedented authority to enforce the ban. SB 8 gives politicians, neighbors, and even strangers the right to sue those who provide — or just help patients get — abortion care.
As further testament to its ruthless cruelty, SB 8 does not include an exception for rape, incest, or fetal diagnoses. As a result of SB 8, there are currently no health centers in Texas providing abortion after six weeks of pregnancy.
The inaction by the Supreme Court on this blatantly unconstitutional ban has taken away a crucial right for millions of people in Texas. Additionally, we know that Black, Latino, Indigenous people, and people of color, those with low incomes, and people in rural areas will face the greatest barriers to accessing abortion care. And it won’t stop with Texas — legislatures in other states that are hostile to abortion rights will see this as the green light to enact their own bans on abortion.
How did we get here? Tragically, SB 8 is the result of a decades-long nationwide effort to restrict abortion rights. Close to 600 abortion restrictions were introduced in state legislatures this year alone — 90 of which have been enacted. At the federal level, the Supreme Court is set to hear a case from Mississippi that is a direct challenge to Roe v. Wade. With a 6-3 conservative majority now in place, there is no reason to believe that SCOTUS isn’t gearing up to overturn Roe v. Wade entirely.
California has long been a leader in the fight for reproductive freedom. But California’s safeguards against these assaults on our constitutional right to control our bodies are also at risk. The gubernatorial recall risks California ending up with a governor who is an ardent opponent of abortion rights, unless a majority of Californians vote “No” on Question 1.
The Planned Parenthood Central Coast Action Fund will never stop fighting to ensure that all people have access to reproductive health care and the ability to make decisions about their own bodies, their lives, and their futures. Today, we must fight where we are — by opening the ballots in our mailboxes and overwhelmingly rejecting this partisan attempt to install an anti-reproductive rights governor in our state.
Jenna Tosh is CEO of the Planned Parenthood Central Coast Action Fund.