Texas pro-lifers had a legal strategy in mind when the state’s heartbeat law, also known as S.B. 8, went into effect on September 1.
They’d sue an abortion provider under the law to try to get the inevitable litigation about the statute going in the most favorable district court under the best circumstances for their side.
When the morning of September 1 arrived, though, they realized this legal strategy had a fundamental problem — there were apparently no abortion providers violating the statute to sue.
Abortionists had, as far as anyone could tell, ceased performing abortions after six weeks in the state of Texas.
This was an eventuality shocking even to the most committed proponents of the bill. “And so when we get two or three days before the effective date of the law,” recalls state senator Bryan Hughes, the chief legislative proponent of the law, “we’re talking to some of our lawyers about what to do — we’re filing our first lawsuit, we can sue them. And then we realized that we can’t sue them because they’re complying with the law!”
For the time being and at least for several days, much of the machinery of abortion had ground to a halt in Texas while Roe and Casey are still on the books, a truly extraordinary accomplishment.
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