Aug 19, 2022 - News

Advocacy group wants to expand Texas abortion law

Illustration of a gavel coming down on a pill

Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

The anti-abortion advocacy group Texas Right to Life will lobby for new legislation that would expand aspects of 2021's Heartbeat Act, which incentivizes individuals to sue anyone who assists in an abortion, a spokesperson for the organization tells Axios.

Why it matters: The proposed bill would allow anyone to file a civil lawsuit against someone allegedly violating the state's abortion laws, no matter the age of the fetus.

  • It would include an option to sue out-of-state organizations that mail abortion-inducing drugs directly to Texas patients.

The big picture: Texas has been a leader in anti-abortion legislation, passing the uniquely structured Heartbeat Act — which doesn't have exceptions for rape and incest — and a trigger law that makes performing an abortion a felony punishable by fines up to $100,000 and life in prison.

  • The Heartbeat Act has been mimicked in other states, including Florida and Ohio.
  • California recently passed a gun control bill modeled on the Texas law.

Of note: A majority of Texas voters — 54% — oppose a total ban on abortions, per polling earlier this year from the Texas Politics Project at UT.

Details: The proposed legislation doesn't have a name yet, but Texas Right to Life has been calling it "Hold Abortionists Accountable."

Flashback: Texas' law allowing people to sue was the subject of copious litigation in multiple jurisdictions — there's an entire Wikipedia page dedicated to it — but the bill was ultimately allowed to stand.

What they're saying: "We're still in the stage of having conversations with legislators, but there is an interest in making sure the abortion industry is held accountable and assessing different legislative strategies for accomplishing that goal," Kimberlyn Schwartz, Texas Right to Life's media director, tells Axios.


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