Intended for healthcare professionals


Texas’s new abortion law is an attack on medical practice and women’s rights, say doctors

BMJ 2021; 374 doi: (Published 03 September 2021) Cite this as: BMJ 2021;374:n2176
  1. Janice Hopkins Tanne
  1. New York

Texas law Senate Bill 8 (SB 8) went into effect on 1 September, effectively banning abortions in the state. In a midnight ruling on 1 September, the US Supreme Court refused to block it despite appeals from reproductive rights organisations, civil rights organisations, and clinics.

Abortion until fetal viability has been constitutionally protected since the 1973 Supreme Court Roe v Wade decision. The court has allowed states to require restrictions such as waiting periods, counselling, and ultrasounds.

The Texas law bans abortions after six weeks of pregnancy if fetal cardiac activity is detected. That is before many women know they are pregnant. There is no exception for rape or incest, although abortion in medical emergencies is permitted if documented in writing.

The ruling was immediately condemned by President Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, and medical organisations, who described it a direct attack on medical practice and women’s rights.

The Supreme Court 5-4 decision reflected its …

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