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Texas passes law to make abortion a felony if Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade

SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images

Lawmakers in the Republican-controlled Texas Legislature have passed a so-called "trigger" bill that would criminalize performing an abortion in the state should the Supreme Court decide to overturn Roe v. Wade.

What are the details?

The bill, H.B. 1280, which stipulates that state residents "may not knowingly perform, induce, or attempt an abortion," received final approval from the state Senate on Tuesday and is now on its way to Republican Gov. Greg Abbott's desk.

The bill is scheduled to take effect "to the extent permitted" 30 days after Roe v. Wade is either "wholly or partly" overturned.

Once in effect, those performing an abortion in the state will be committing a second-degree felony and be subjected to a civic penalty of at least $100,000. Furthermore, should the unborn child die as a result of the offense, the crime escalates to a first-degree felony which, according to the Dallas Morning News, could carry up to a life sentence in prison.

There are no exceptions in the bill for pregnancies that result from rape or incest, however, some narrow exceptions exist for pregnant women who face medical emergencies.

Why does it matter?

The legislation anticipates a pro-life ruling from the ideologically conservative Supreme Court when it takes up a case about abortion this fall, or perhaps in subsequent cases.

The court announced earlier this month that it had agreed to hear arguments this fall in a dispute over a Mississippi law that bans virtually all abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy. The case, Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization, is the first to make it to the nation's top court from an onslaught of state laws passed by Republicans in recent years which were designed to challenge Roe v. Wade.

The court's decision to hear the case sets up a key showdown that many pro-life advocates believe could result in a major rollback of abortion rights.

Anything else?

The legislature's approval of the bill came less than a week after another pro-life measure restricting abortion was signed into law in the state.

Last Wednesday, Gov. Abbott signed into law a bill that prohibits abortions as early as six weeks, or once a fetal heartbeat is detected, and empowers nearly any private citizen to sue abortion providers or anyone who "aids or abets" an abortion.

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