Planned Parenthood clinics in San Antonio reported that they had stopped performing abortions Wednesday, the same day a state ban on most abortions took effect.
“Due to Texas’ SB 8 law, we are unable to provide abortion procedures at this time,” the Planned Parenthood of South Texas’ website reads. “We believe this new law is unconstitutional and that is why we are fighting it in court. We realize that getting an abortion will be a huge obstacle for many people throughout the state.”
Senate Bill 8 prohibits abortions once cardiac activity is detected in an embryo, which can occur during the first six weeks of pregnancy — often before people know they are pregnant. The law applies to cases of rape and incest, but makes exceptions for medical emergencies.
Last month, all 11 health Planned Parenthood centers in Texas stopped scheduling visits for abortions past six weeks of pregnancy after Sept. 1. Planned Parenthood South Texas and its subsidiaries operate five health centers in San Antonio, two of which provide abortions.
Other providers such as Alamo Women’s Clinic are still scheduling abortions that are legal under SB 8 or connecting people to providers out of state.
“We are seeing all patients for ultrasound dating of pregnancy,” the clinic’s website states. “This will allow us to help refer you to an out of state facility such as our affiliate in Tulsa, Oklahoma. There may be funding for travel expenses available. Governor [Greg] Abbott and the Republican led legislature in Texas is solely responsible for this outrageous assault on women in Texas.”
Abortion-inducing pills are still available via mail, but another pending bill, Senate Bill 4, would ban them from being mailed in Texas and prohibit providers from giving them to patients who are more than seven weeks pregnant.
Instead of criminal penalties, the new law allows almost anyone to sue abortion providers if they violate it, as well as most anyone else who helps someone get an abortion.
“These lawsuits are not against the women,” John Seago with Texas Right to Life, which helped write the bill, told NPR. “The lawsuits would be against the individuals making money off of the abortion, the abortion industry itself. So this is not spy on your neighbor and see if they’re having an abortion.”
Texas Right to Life, which helped write the bill, set up a “whistleblower” website to give the anti-abortion organization tips for violations.
“No one should be allowed to control the decisions of another — to do so violates personhood,” said Jeffrey Hons, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood South Texas, in a press release. “If Governor Abbott thought he could take control of people’s lives without a fight, think again. When it comes to our patients, we do not give up.”
Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers have asked the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn the new law. As of Wednesday afternoon, the court has not acted.
“Right now, Roe v. Wade is effectively a dead letter in Texas,” said Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights. “We are deeply concerned that the Supreme Court has yet to take action on our urgent request to enjoin Texas’ near-total ban on abortions. Texas’ pernicious abortion ban is now in effect, upending abortion care in the state, with devastating consequences for those without the means to go elsewhere to exercise their constitutional rights.”
On Wednesday evening, Planned Parenthood, The Lilith Fund for Reproductive Equity, and other abortion advocacy groups were set to host a rally in protest of the law at San Pedro Springs Park.