SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — Republican states that have passed increasingly tough abortion restrictions only to see them blocked by the federal courts have a new template in an unusually written Texas law that represents the most far-reaching curb on abortions in nearly half a century.
On Thursday, Republican lawmakers in at least half a dozen states said they planned to introduce bills using the Texas law as a model, hoping it provides a pathway to enacting the kind of abortion crackdown they have sought for years.
In Mississippi, Republican state Sen. Chris McDaniel said he would “absolutely” consider filing legislation to match the Texas law after a sharply divided U.S. Supreme Court let it stand.
“I think most conservative states in the South will look at this inaction by the court and will see that as perhaps a chance to move on that issue,” he said.
The Texas law, which took effect Wednesday, prohibits abortions once medical professionals can detect cardiac activity, usually around six weeks and before many women know they’re pregnant. While a dozen states have tried to enact bans early in pregnancy, those laws have been blocked by courts.
Texas may have found an end-run around the federal courts by enacting an unusual enforcement scheme that authorizes private citizens to file lawsuits in state court against abortion providers and anyone involved in aiding an abortion, including someone who drives a woman to a clinic. The law includes a minimum award of $10,000 for a successful lawsuit, but does not have government officials criminally enforce the law.
In addition to Mississippi, GOP lawmakers and abortion opponents in at least five other Republican-controlled states — Arkansas, Florida, Indiana, North Dakota and South Dakota — said they were considering pushing bills similar to the Texas law and its citizen-enforcement provision.
“Even though you may have pro-life legislators, you do not always have pro-life bureaucrats who are willing to do enforcement inspections,” said Indiana state Sen. Liz Brown, a Republican who has been the sponsor of several anti-abortion bills adopted in recent years.