The Texas abortion ban and the battle for reproductive rights

Pascale Bernard, vice president of public affairs and organizing at the Planned Parenthood of Greater New York Action Fund, explains what the new law means for women.

Pro-choice protestors rally against abortion restrictions in Washington, D.C.

Pro-choice protestors rally against abortion restrictions in Washington, D.C. Rena Schild/Shutterstock

On Wednesday, a Texas law went into effect that banned abortions after the six-week pregnancy mark, after the Supreme Court did not act on a request to block it. It is now the most restrictive abortion law in the country.

The law, known as Senate Bill 8, prohibits doctors from performing an abortion if a fetal heartbeat is detected, which tends to occur at six weeks when most women are not even aware that they’re pregnant. While the law doesn’t allow the state to enforce this law, it does provide individuals with the ability to file lawsuits against anyone who “aids and abets” an abortion after six weeks, including those who perform the procedure, abortion clinic staff, counselors, people who might assist in paying for an abortion and even individuals who drive a patient to their abortion appointment.

The bill was signed into law in May, by the state’s Republican governor, Greg Abbott, as a part of growing push among Republican lawmakers to overrule Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision that made abortion a constitutional right. A slew of women’s reproductive rights organizations and health clinics filed a request to halt the law from going into effect soon after the law passed. While the Supreme Court may still weigh in on the request to halt this law, a lengthy legal battle over its constitutionality and legality are expected.

Pascale Bernard, vice president of public affairs and organizing at the Planned Parenthood of Greater New York Action Fund spoke to NYN Media about how the law threatens the reproductive health of women and Planned Parenthood’s involvement in the fight to overturn Senate Bill 8.

This interview has been lightly edited for length and clarity.

What were your first thoughts upon hearing that Senate Bill 8 went into effect?

One thought was, “Oh my God, what are people going to do in Texas?” And then the other thought was, “Thank God, I live in New York City.” Two very different ends of the spectrum.

How does this new law negatively impact reproductive rights overall?

This is the most prohibitive abortion ban in the country. First and foremost, it bans abortion after six weeks – most people don't know that they're pregnant before six weeks – it also does not allow for any exemptions for rape or incest. It also empowers your neighbor to be a bounty hunter. So the fact that the Supreme Court has turned their backs and have not upheld the law of the land, which is Roe v. Wade. It's very troubling. We are looking at a very difficult and dark day for nearly 7 million women of reproductive age and everybody that supports access to safe legal abortions.

What implications does such a restrictive abortion law have for people in New York, if any? 

Well, in New York – which is why my polar opposite thought this morning was, “Thank God I live in New York State” – we do have the Reproductive Health Act, which was passed in 2019. What RHA does is it codifies Roe v. Wade in our state, so people have protection. And people who are seeking compassionate health care can come to one of the Planned Parenthood medical centers throughout the state and get that care. It also makes New York a beacon and a safe haven for people in states such as Texas and so many other states that are passing abortion bans. We as New Yorkers are in a position to provide assistance, to provide compassionate health care and really be a leader in this area. And if it were not for the wonderful work of the state Senate and Assembly, we would not have RHA. 

How can New York-based reproductive rights organizations, such as Planned Parenthood, aid people affected by this law? 

We're going to continue to provide the compassionate healthcare that we always do. Additionally, our doors are always open, not only do we provide abortion care but we provide a variety of other sexual and reproductive health services for New Yorkers. We are also raising our voice in support of the people in Texas, in support of the people impacted in Texas. We are part of the lawsuit against this law, which is clearly a violation. We're in the fight, we’re providing support and providing medical care. If anyone from Texas were to come for access to medical care here, they would receive it.

NEXT STORY: Leader to Leader: Jordyn Lexton

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.