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21700 views   |   23   |   Last updated on Nov 09, 2023    Criminal Law Abortion

Texas enacted a law that prohibits almost all abortions in 2022.

Abortions are banned, with certain exceptions

Chapter 170A of the Texas Health & Safety Code prohibits abortions outright, except in certain circumstances.

Section 170A.002 prohibits a person from performing, inducing, or attempting an abortion. There is an exception for situations in which the life or health of the pregnant patient is at risk. In order for the exception to apply, three factors must be met:

  • A licensed physician must perform the abortion.
  • The patient must have a life-threatening condition and be at risk of death or "substantial impairment of a major bodily function" if the abortion is not performed. "Substantial impairment of a major bodily function" is not defined in this chapter.
  • The physician must try to save the life of the fetus unless this would increase the risk of the pregnant patient's death or impairment. 

There are additional situations where the exception for the life or health of the patient does not apply. Please read the entirety of Section 170A.002 for more details.

Who can be punished under Texas’s abortion laws?

Chapter 170A includes various consequences for anyone who provides a prohibited abortion. The penalties do not apply to a patient who receives an abortion, according to Section 170A.003. The following penalties are listed in Chapter 170A:

    1. Section 170A.004 makes performing an abortion a criminal offense. Violators could be charged with a first or second-degree felony, depending on whether the abortion resulted in the death of the fetus.
  1. Each violation of this chapter is also subject to a civil penalty of at least $100,000, plus attorney's fees and court costs under Section 170A.005. This penalty is in addition to any other civil liabilities a person may face. For example, Senate Bill 8 also allows civil suits related to prohibited abortions.
  2. A physician or health care professional in violation would have their license or permit revoked under Section 170A.007.

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