Press Releases / September 1, 2021

National Organization for Women Urges Mobilization to Defend Abortion Rights


September 1, 2021 – New York, NY – Texas Senate Bill #SB8 went into effect today, September 1st, ending access to abortion after six weeks of pregnancy and creating a hostile legal environment that would allow anyone to sue abortion providers and “aiders and abetters” in civil court. Deceptively dubbed “the heartbeat bill,” the law basically ends access to abortion for Texas women and sets a dangerous course for the rest of the country.

“This extreme new ban is an assault on women’s lives and dignity,” said Sonia Ossorio, president of NOW-NY. “It’s unconstitutional, and it sets a dangerous course for many states. Anyone who thinks the right to abortion is secure will be shocked to learn that half the states would ban abortion if federal protection under Roe v. Wade ends.”

The Supreme Court is still expected to rule on an emergency application from abortion providers aiming to block the measure. As of now, the unconstitutional Texas law has gone into effect, in direct violation of Roe. The proposed law limits abortion to a time when many women may not yet know they’re pregnant – just six weeks.

One of the law’s scariest features is called a “private civil right to action” which will be a real test for the courts. SB8 will allow private citizens to sue anyone who “knowingly engages in conduct that aids or abets the performance or inducement of an abortion,” whether or not they knew or should have known that the abortion was in violation of the six-week ban.

Ossorio said, “This new Texas ban not only outlaws most abortions, but it purposely sets out to create a culture of fear and intimidation for seeking abortion care. Under the law, any individual can be sued and forced to pay upwards of $10,000 for simply driving a friend or family member to a health clinic for an abortion. When your neighbor can sue you for helping someone with a personal decision they made regarding their own medical care, it’s nothing less than outrageous.”

SB8 allows anyone – even strangers – to file a lawsuit against any person they suspect is going to either provide an abortion or help a person obtain an abortion past six weeks’ gestation, asking the court to issue an injunction stopping that person from performing or aiding and abetting the abortion. If the civil lawsuit is won, the minimum damage amount is $10,000.

Beyond Texas, the Supreme Court has agreed to review a challenge to Mississippi’s law that criminalizes abortion after 15 weeks. In a state that already has only one abortion clinic remaining. It’s the gravest threat yet to Roe v. Wade. With a supermajority conservative Supreme Court make up of 6-3, federal protection to the right of abortion could come to an end before the year ends. In the past decade, more than 550 abortion restrictions have been put in place, rendering huge swaths of the country with little or no access to abortion. 

“Make no mistake, the future of reproductive freedom throughout the United States is in grave and imminent danger. Federal protection to the right to abortion may end very soon without increased huge public protest,” Ossorio said.

NOW-NY advocates for laws that defend our rights and break barriers for women and girls. We work to advance economic opportunity and fairness in the workplace, protect and expand reproductive rights, and strengthen our criminal justice system for victims of gender-based violence. Take action with us.


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