The court’s ruling returned the question of abortion policy back to the states, and Texas already has multiple abortion laws on the books.
The Human Life Protection Act, referred to as the “abortion trigger ban,” was triggered 30 days after the release of the court’s judgment on the case Dobbs v. Jackson. The judgment is different than the opinion, which explains the reasoning behind the judgment.
Under the Texas law, abortion is banned entirely except for procedures done to save the mother from death or substantial bodily impairment. It also does not ban any procedure to remove a miscarried child or an ectopic pregnancy.
Violating that law is a felony punishable by five to 99 years in prison and fines up to $10,000. Anyone involved in an abortion is liable for punishment under the trigger ban except the mother.
The licenses of medical professionals involved in an abortion may also be suspended under the law and the attorney general may seek civil fines of up to $100,000.
While the trigger ban became effective today, Texas already had two other abortion-restrictive laws in effect. Passed last year, the Texas Heartbeat Act banned abortions once cardiac activity is detected in the womb. But rather than place enforcement authority with the state, that law carved out a civil enforcement mechanism in which members of the public may sue anyone involved in an abortion, except for the mother, for up to $10,000.
Abortions in Texas declined substantially after the Heartbeat Act became effective last September.
The other abortion restriction on the books is Texas’ pre-Roe bans in statute. Those laws were never repealed after the court’s ruling in Roe. These sections also ban abortion from the moment of conception except in instances to save the life of the mother but lay out different penalties than the trigger ban.
It prescribes 2 to 5 years imprisonment for anyone performing an abortion. That law had already been effective once Roe was overturned. It also does not punish the treatment of ectopic pregnancies or miscarriages.
With the trigger ban now in effect, the state has three separate sets of abortion restrictive laws on the books.
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Brad Johnson is a senior reporter for The Texan and an Ohio native who graduated from the University of Cincinnati in 2017. He is an avid sports fan who most enjoys watching his favorite teams continue their title drought throughout his cognizant lifetime. In his free time, you may find Brad quoting Monty Python productions and trying to calculate the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow.