AUSTIN, Texas — Ever since Texas enacted one of the most restrictive abortion laws in the country six months ago, other states have been looking to follow suit. Monday, Idaho became the first state to send a Texas-style abortion law to their governor’s desk, but at least a dozen other states have introduced Texas style bills.
“This was one of the concerns of people who didn’t care for the Texas law,” said Seth J. Chandler, a law professor at the University of Houston. “There is very little to prevent it from being copied by other states, either dealing with abortion or potential other issues like second amendment rights.”
While those bills have already failed in some states, others want to take it even further than Texas. Lawmakers in Missouri are considering allowing civil lawsuits against anyone who helps someone get an out-of-state abortion. And a bill is pending in Ohio that would ban all abortions, not just those after six weeks.
“The issue is when you say that federal courts cannot intervene in advance and block laws that seem to infringe on constitutional rights, it’s open season,” said Chandler. “So what you’re seeing is states taking advantage of that.”
Recent data from Planned Parenthood found that the states surrounding Texas have seen an 800% increase in people seeking out-of-state abortions since the law went into effect. Kimberlyn Schwartz, director of communications at Texas Right to Life, says that those numbers point to the need for more states to pass similar legislation.
“The best thing the pro-life movement can do is pass versions of the Texas Heartbeat Act in other states,” said Schwartz.
Schwartz says that it’s imperative to give people more resources so they can continue the pregnancy.
“The second approach is to make sure we’re bolstering pregnancy resources here in our communities,” she said. “That means that women in our communities who are experiencing an unexpected pregnancy, they don’t have to have an abortion, they don’t have to go out of state. We have the resources that women need to choose life.”
On Friday, the Texas Supreme Court effectively killed abortion providers’ federal challenge to the law. Other challenges to the bill are still making their way through the courts.
“The problem, or the advantage if you like them, is that these bills are so tough,” said Chandler. “Abortion providers are scared, so they won’t perform the abortions that could get them sued. So you’re in a stalemate, and I think we’ll see that spreading to other states.”