This week, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to act on a horrifying Texas law that bans abortions after 6 weeks of pregnancy. The law, Senate Bill 8, also allows anyone in the state to sue a person who carries out an abortion after 6 weeks or helps procure an abortion after 6 weeks, including drivers who give rides to clinics. Anyone can sue anyone if they think they’ve performed or assisted in providing an abortion after 6 weeks. And keep in mind that most people don’t even know they are pregnant at 6 weeks. This Texas law is nearing Handmaid’s Tale-level madness, but it’s sadly not unexpected.
It’s also not unexpected that the current U.S. Supreme Court did not take action on an emergency request to block the law. We’ve known for years that a large swath of the Republican party wants to overturn Roe. v. Wade, and the three Trump-appointed justices have set the stage for the inevitable. Even if Chief Justice John Roberts, somehow, sides with the liberal justices (who should probably be called common sense justices at this point), it would still be a decisive 5 to 4 vote in favor of overturning Roe.
The Supreme Court has tiptoed around the LGBTQ discrimination issue with its narrow rulings in several cases. It’s not going to tiptoe around abortion rights. This court has been selected by George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush, and Donald Trump for this one moment: reversing the right to choose. Positions on abortion rights are non-negotiable for Republican appointees. It’s the one issue that even Justice Roberts won’t be able to finesse.
And as is so often the case, this new law will ultimately go beyond Texas and beyond abortion. It’s a blueprint for other states to do the same thing, so long as those states have legislatures and governors who want to overturn abortion. S.B. 8 is also a blueprint for states to enforce power over other medical decisions as well. That includes, well, everything related to trans healthcare as we know it, and so much more.
So, as we watch people lose autonomy over their bodies in Texas, what are we to do in Pennsylvania? The first thing should be to call out the legislators in Texas who enacted the law and to support people in Texas who are suffering because of it. And the number of people who suffer because of the law is only going to grow. Donate to the Women’s Medical Fund, donate to Whole Woman’s Health, donate to Planned Parenthood.
The next thing for Pennsylvanians to do is to vote, because the simplest way to prevent abortion being outlawed in this state is to elect people who understand and believe that abortion is healthcare. We’re lucky that we’ve had a Democratic governor and enough Democrats in Harrisburg that this hasn’t happened here yet. But if people don’t vote for governor and for state rep and state senate candidates next year, Texas’ reality might be Pennsylvania’s. And that would be a tragedy for many, including the LGBTQ community.