Mayor Bill de Blasio called Texas’ new ban on most abortions “a direct assault on the rights of women” throughout America, and condemned the Supreme Court on Wednesday for failing to stop the state law in its tracks.
Though it is state legislation affecting women in Texas, de Blasio cautioned that the court’s failure to hear appeals against the abortion ban early Wednesday morning sets a troubling tone for the future of reproductive rights in America — potentially paving the way for the overturning of the landmark 1973 Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade which legalized abortion.
“The Supreme Court, by not acting, made a very troubling decision that has ramifications for us here in New York City,” de Blasio said. “It was a direct assault on the rights of women. This will endanger women’s lives in Texas immediately.”
What it means
Texas Senate Bill 8, which took effect on Sept. 1, forbids women from terminating pregnancies beyond six weeks in term for any reason. Anti-abortion Texas Governor Greg Abbott, in signing the law back in May, cited religion as a factor, saying, “Our creator endowed us with the right to life and yet millions of children lose their right to life every year because of abortion.”
For decades, religious groups and advocates involved in the anti-abortion movement have opposed the procedure because they believe life begins at conception.
Abortions, however, are often required for women in life-threatening medical emergencies, some of which can develop later in pregnancy. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, in a 2019 statement, noted, “There are situations where pregnancy termination in the form of an abortion is the only medical intervention that can preserve a patient’s health or save their life.” Such conditions include placental abruption, infection and even cancer.
Because up to 90% of all abortions occur beyond the first six weeks of pregnancy, abortion rights advocates say Texas Senate Bill 8 will force almost all providers in the Lone Star State to shut down, denying women there the ability to end a pregnancy due for reasons including rape, incest or medical emergencies.
Moreover, the bill also gives private citizens the ability to sue for damages abortion providers, and anyone who helps a women get an abortion in Texas. Critics say this clause in the bill opens the door to vigilantism and for anti-abortion advocates to harass and intimidate women across the state.
The mayor, and leaders of women’s organizations fighting Texas’ abortion ban who joined him at Wednesday’s press briefing, urged New Yorkers to speak out against it, and to financially support groups seeking not only legal remedies to uphold reproductive rights for women, but also to provide abortion and other reproductive services across the city and country.
“This bill is downright machiavellian in what it does,” said Sonia Ossorio, president of the National Organization for Women’s New York chapter. “It literally incentivizes people, anti-choice activists, neighbors, co-workers to report anyone who is aiding and abetting someone who is seeking an abortion. That is something we have not seen and is now what we are actually seeing in law. The ramifications for the rest of the country, for other states, is severe.”
Ossorio fears that the Supreme Court, when it reviews a proposed ban on abortion in Mississippi in its next term, will open the door to fully overturning Roe v. Wade, and taking reproductive rights away from women entirely.
Nancy Northup, president of the Center for Reproductive Rights, slammed Texas Senate Bill 8 as a blatant attempt by an anti-abortion state government “to try and evade judicial review,” calling the legislation “absolutely dystopian.”
“Even here in New York, where there are strong protections for abortion access, we need to join together and fight for those in Texas,” she said. “We need people around the nation to do everything they can.”
De Blasio suggested that the Supreme Court, in failing to hear arguments against the Texas abortion ban, was overstepping the will of the majority of Americans. A Pew Opinion Research poll taken earlier this year found that nearly 6 in 10 Americans supported abortion in almost every case.
“There’s no question that the American people want to defend the rights of women,” de Blasio said. “Whatever it takes, we have to overcome a court that does not represent the people of this country on this matter, plain and simple.”