The Justice Department has temporarily suspended a Texas law banning nearly all abortions.
In an 113-page ruling, Robert Pitman — a Federal District Court judge in Austin — barred Texas, anyone acting on the state's behalf, state court judges, and state court clerks from enforcing the law, known as Senate Bill 8.
Still, it's unclear whether abortion clinics will be able to resume full activity. If Pitman's injunction is dismissed, healthcare providers will be held responsible for any abortions performed during the suspension of the law.
Senate Bill 8 is essentially an outright ban on abortions — it bars the procedure after cardiac activity in an embryo is detectable, which occurs at around six weeks. A point many have previously made bears repeating: many women do not know they're pregnant at six weeks.
Adding insult to injury, the state won't provide exceptions in cases of rape or incest. According to the CDC, three million women in the U.S. have experienced rape and rape-related pregnancy during their lifetime, a statistic that's likely higher due to the underreporting of sexual violence.
State officials are prevented from enforcing the new law, a Roe v. Wade workaround that makes it difficult to challenge in court. Instead, the state is weaponizing private citizens by allowing them to sue anyone who "aids and abets" a patient in receiving an abortion after six weeks.
This places a bounty on the head of anyone who helps someone obtain an "illegal" abortion — including doctors, drivers transporting patients to abortion clinics, and family members or friends who provide financial assistance for an abortion.
It's a measure that will leave scores of women, especially poor women, totally isolated in their pursuit of healthcare.
Just weeks after SB8 went into effect, governor Gregg Abbott introduced additional restrictions that crack down on abortion pills.
Senate Bill 4, signed into law on September 17, prohibits medication-induced abortions after seven weeks of pregnancy. It also prohibits a "manufacturer, supplier, physician, or any other person" from providing patients with abortion pills via "courier, delivery, or mail service."
On TikTok, a disturbing new trend points towards the consequences of restricting women's access to healthcare. Under the hashtag #iudremoval (which currently boasts over 64 million views), teens are documenting themselves removing their intrauterine devices (IUDs) by themselves.
It goes without saying that IUDs should never be removed at home — however, a lack of healthcare or a high co-pay can deter people from visiting the doctor's office (while IUD insertion is usually free, removal can cost hundreds of dollars).
The TikTok trend is a frightening precursor to an inevitable wave of DIY abortions in Texas. Out of options, scores of women will likely be forced to take matters into their own hands.
Texas' new gun laws, which went into effect around the same time as SB8, stand in sharp contrast to the state's restrictive abortion crackdown. Now, any citizens who own firearms — presumably legally — can open carry in public, no permit or training required.
"Just allowing almost anyone to carry a handgun in public, no questions asked, no background check or safety training, is really dangerous," Everytown for Gun Safety advisor Andrew Karwoski told CNN.
Artist Barbara Kruger's iconic work, Untitled (Your body is a battleground), has proven eerily prescient. Steadily circulating across social media, the text-based image was originally created by Kruger for the 1989 Women's March on Washington. Since then, the work has been reused in abortion rights protests around the world, most notably in Poland.
Kruger's work joins a slew of other chilling visual symbols for the state of reproductive rights in America: wire clothes hangers; the bonnets and robes of the Handmaid's Tale; subversive takes on "Don't Tread On Me," an expression borrowed from the Gadsden flag frequently adopted by the far-right.
They're powerful representations of the pain, fear, and anger felt by women across the country.
As opinions and unhelpful hot takes on what's going down in Texas spread across social media, it's important to remember that abortion access isn't just a reproductive rights issue — it's a matter tied to wealth and race, too.
Low-income people are less likely to have funds to travel for an out-of-state abortion, as well as pay for accommodations during the pre-abortion waiting period many states mandate.
It's also harder for undocumented immigrants to travel, making out-of-state abortion an exceptional challenge for them.
According to a 2019 report by The New York Times, Black women in the United States have the highest abortion rate, a complicated reality that has to do in part with inequities in access to contraceptives and sexual education.
If you're looking for ways to support women in Texas, consider donating to an abortion fund. The National Network of Abortion Funds has a list of funds, by state, that you can donate to or connect with should you need an abortion.
Fund Texas Choice
A non-profit that helps Texans secure transportation and lodging for abortions in and out of state.
Jane's Due Process
Assists Texas minors in accessing birth control, abortion, and family planning services confidentially.
Provides state-specific guides on how to receive abortion pills by mail — including "creative solutions" for those limited by harsh laws.
Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas
The non-profit reproductive healthcare provider filed a temporary restraining order against anti-abortion organization Texas Right to Life.