Woman seeking in South plains Texas

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AUSTIN, Texas AP — The Supreme Court allowing a new Texas law that bans most abortions is the biggest curb to the constitutional right to an abortion in decades, and Republicans in other states are already considering similar measures.

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Abortion patients themselves, however, cannot be sued. The law does not make exceptions for rape or incest. The new Texas law could affect thousands of women seeking abortions, though precise estimates are difficult. InTexas facilities performed about 54, abortions on residents. More than 45, of those occurred at eight weeks of pregnancy or less. Some of those abortions still could have been legal under the new law, if they occurred before cardiac activity was detected. The key difference is the enforcement mechanism.

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The Texas law relies on citizens suing abortion providers over alleged violations. Other states sought to enforce their statutes through government actions like criminal charges against physicians who provide abortions. Texas is one of 14 states with laws either banning abortion entirely or prohibiting it after eight weeks or less of pregnancy. The rest have all been put on hold by courts.

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Most recently, a court halted a new Arkansas law that would have banned all abortions unless necessary to save the life of the mother in a medical emergency. Texas has long been a major battleground over abortion rights and access, including a law that closed more than half of the plus abortion clinics in the state before it was blocked by the Supreme Court. Anti-abortion groups say the new law was in response to frustration over prosecutors refusing to enforce other abortion restrictions already on the books. Before Republican Gov.

Greg Abbott ed the law in May, voters in Lubbock, Texas, approved an ordinance similarly intended to outlaw abortion in the city by allowing family members to sue an abortion provider.

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A case is still proceeding in the 5th U. Circuit Court of Appeals, though the timing of future action is unclear. Indeed, some Republican lawmakers already are talking about following suit. In Arkansas, Republican state Sen.

In Mississippi, Republican state Sen. The Mississippi Legislature is scheduled to start meeting in January. The Supreme Court will hear arguments this fall on a Mississippi law that would ban most abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy -- a case that is a direct challenge to Roe v. Some states already have turned to citizens to enforce new laws. A Missouri law that took effect last week allows citizens to sue local law enforcement agencies whose officers knowingly enforce any federal gun laws.

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In Kansas, a new law prompted by frustration over coronavirus restrictions allows residents to file lawsuits challenging mask mandates and limits on public gatherings imposed by counties. Last month, the Kansas Supreme Court allowed enforcement of the law to proceed while it considers an appeal of a lower court ruling that declared the law unconstitutional. Though adult-entertainment groups warned it was a violation of free speech, many sites have complied with the law to avoid the expense of a possible onslaught of legal challenges.

Citizens filing their own lawsuits has long been a fixture of environmental and disability-rights law, said Travis Brandon, an associate professor at Belmont University College of Law. Environmental groups, for example, help file suits against businesses accused of violating federal pollution permits. Those laws are different, though, in that people generally must show they have been directly affected by a violation of the law, a feature missing from the new Texas measure, Brandon said.

David A. Lieb reported from Jefferson City, Missouri. Sections U. Connect with the definitive source for global and local news. The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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