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Battle over Texas abortion law leaves Black people behind

A Texas abortion provider tells Into America how SB-8 is impacting Black people, and a legal scholar explains its parallels to the fugitive slave acts.

About this episode:

On August 31st, Marva Sadler stood outside the Whole Women’s Health abortion clinic in Fort Worth, Texas, and vowed to help as many people as she could before the end of the day. Along with a small staff, Sadler and a physician performed 67 abortions before midnight. The next day, the nation’s strictest abortion ban went into effect.

The law, known as SB-8, bans nearly all abortions after fetal cardiac activity is detected, typically around the sixth week of pregnancy, before most people know they are carrying. SB-8 is facing multiple legal challenges, but its authors designed it to stand up to a challenge before the Supreme Court, by moving the enforcement from the state to private citizens, who can sue anyone who “aids or abets” an abortion procedure.

So far, the bet has paid off. The Supreme Court let the law take effect in September, and while there’s been recent legal back and forth over the law, it’s still in effect today. In the past six weeks, many pregnant people have sought to get around the ban by crossing state lines or seeking abortion pills online.

On this episode of Into America, Marva Sadler, the clinical director for the Whole Women’s Health network, tells Trymaine Lee that this law will have greater consequences for Black people, who already face higher face higher rates of maternal mortality in Texas.

Michele Goodwin, a law professor at UC Irvine and founding director for the university’s Center for Biotechnology and Global Health Policy, says the law, with its vigilante nature, is reminiscent of the fugitive slave acts of antebellum America.

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Find the transcript here.

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