One of Texas’ largest abortion clinics rushed to perform “67 abortions in 17 hours” ahead of a deadline that would effectively ban most abortions in the state after six weeks — the time a fetal heartbeat can be detected.
The Texas law behind the new restrictions went into effect at 12 a.m. Wednesday morning, apparently prompting numerous women in the state to quickly get abortions when they may have been waiting to do so. The 19th News, a feminist news outlet started by two former Texas Tribune employees, reported the increased abortions at Whole Woman’s Health in Fort Worth, Texas, describing a waiting room full of patients as well as a line outside.
“It was 8 p.m. on Tuesday when Marva Sadler looked at the patients waiting in the lobby, at the list of patients waiting to return, at even more patients waiting outside in cars surrounded by protesters — and realized they might not get to everyone,” the outlet reported.
The outlet, of course, reported the story as tragic due to the Texas law.
It described Sadler, the director of clinical services, as figuring the clinic needed to perform “eight abortions an hour with only one doctor on duty, an octogenarian who had been working since 7 a.m.”
The outlet attempts to use one woman’s story for emotional purposes — a pregnant drug user about to go to prison for five years and who already had three kids. The woman was already 12 weeks pregnant and had just arrived to the clinic for her first appointment, meaning that under already existing Texas law she would be unable to receive an abortion due to a 24-hour waiting period.
Of all the women who suddenly showed up that night for last-minute abortions, Sadler seemed to feel the worst for the one heading to jail, telling the 19th News she thought about the woman while driving home from the clinic after being unable to provide abortions to all the women who wanted them that night.
Just before midnight, the clinic finished its last abortion, having performed 67 abortion procedures in just 17 hours — or about four abortions an hour. They’d also “seen 60 people who had taken medication to abort at home to confirm that — yes, the process was complete, and they wouldn’t be left in limbo.”
The outlet described the abortion-clinic workers as being able to “savor” their work that day but feeling dismayed that they couldn’t perform more abortions the next day for women who were further than six weeks along in their pregnancies.
As The Daily Wire reported, the Texas law was one of many “heartbeat bills” passed to limit abortions. Polling consistently shows Americans’ approval of abortion drops significantly after the first three months, and the heartbeat bills would restrict abortions to the first six weeks of pregnancy. The reason the Texas bill wasn’t stayed like other similar bills from other states is because it “authorizes civil — not criminal penalties,” The Daily Wire reported.
“In the novel legal strategy, the state Legislature designed the law to prevent government officials from directly enforcing it. The move was meant to make it much more difficult to bring a pre-enforcement challenge because there are not the usual government officials to hold accountable in court,” CNN reported. “Instead, the law allows private citizens — anywhere in the country — to bring civil suits against anyone who assists a pregnant person seeking an abortion in violation of the ban.”
Under the Texas law, doctors, clinic staff members, counselors, and anyone who participates in paying for the abortion or helping the woman obtain the abortion would be liable if the woman’s abortion occurred beyond six weeks in the pregnancy.
“Plaintiffs, who need not have any connection to the matter or show any injury from it, are entitled to $10,000 and their legal fees recovered if they win. Prevailing defendants are not entitled to legal fees,” The New York Times reported.