Thousands of protesters gathered at the Franklin Park Playstead in Jamaica Plain on Oct. 2 in response to Texas’ Heartbeat Act (SB 8) that went into effect Sept. 1.
SB8 outlaws abortions once a fetal heartbeat is detectable, around the sixth week of pregnancy. This new legislation allows for any private citizen to sue someone who performs, induces or otherwise aids in an abortion past the six-week period, including physicians, lawyers and those who provide transportation to abortion clinics.
The plaintiff does not need to have a personal connection to the patient or the provider in order to file a lawsuit and allows exceptions for medical emergencies excluding rape or incest, according to the bill.
Stephen Merrick, president of the Suffolk University Democrats, denounced the bill.
“[It is] a complete and utter overreach and attack on women’s right to choose,” Merrick said.
After Texas Governor Greg Abbot signed SB8 into law on May 19, the University of Texas at Austin released a study examining the medical and legal implications of the bill. The study found that SB8 would prevent more than 8 in 10 people from obtaining abortion care.
According to the study, “The law would particularly affect Black patients and those living on low incomes or who live far from a facility that provides abortion because they often experience delays obtaining care.”
On Sept. 9, the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) sued the state of Texas in response to the bill.
“S.B. 8 is invalid under the Supremacy Clause and the Fourteenth Amendment, is preempted by federal law, and violates the doctrine of intergovernmental immunity,” the DOJ claimed in the suit.
In addition to the DOJ’s case, the Supreme Court will hear a challenge on Dec. 1 to a Mississippi law passed in 2018 that bans most abortions after 15 weeks, with the possibility of overturning Roe v. Wade.
The House of Representatives passed the Women’s Health and Protection Act (WHPA) on Sept. 24 to prevent Roe v. Wade from being overturned.
Senator Ed Markey attended the Boston event and commented on the need for abortions rights.
“Abortion is healthcare, and healthcare is a human right,” Markey said.
Dr. Jennifer Childs-Roshak, CEO and president of the Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts, spoke at the protest.
“We must do everything in our power to restore and protect access to abortion in Texas and everywhere across this country,” she said. “Texas is the canary in the coal mine. This is happening everywhere around our country, even though 80% of people in this country support safe and legal abortion.”