Commentary: SB 8 doesn't end fight for abortion rights in Texas

September 30, 2021

Senate Bill 8, otherwise known as the “six-week ban,” has been law for a month, and Texans already are feeling its insidious effects.

Fearful of frivolous lawsuits, three abortion clinics in San Antonio have stopped offering abortions. Recently, one of our own community members, Dr. Alan Braid, chose to uphold the oath he took out of a duty to care for his patient and performed an abortion despite the state’s newest restriction.

This brave decision has led to expensive lawsuits from two out-of-state plaintiffs, one seeking damages up to $100,000, plus the cost of attorney’s fees. The plaintiff is not from our community, nor does he have a vested interest in this community, but he could be awarded at least $10,000 because Dr. Braid made the right choice for his patient.

SB 8 forces Texans to make impossible health care choices and empowers anti-abortion activists to use our legal system to harass those who choose to do the right thing. As U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland stated, “Texas enacted SB 8 in open defiance of the Constitution.”

We know SB 8, and other attacks on a person’s right to choose, will not end abortions. They will only make abortion care more difficult and dangerous to obtain, especially for the most vulnerable. Abortion is, and always will be, essential health care.

SB 8 is more than just an anti-abortion bill. It is a direct challenge to our judicial system, democracy and Constitution. While the six-week ban is a massive attack on our constitutional right to choose, there are also unprecedented legal provisions in SB 8.

In May, when SB 8 came to the House floor for a vote, I was prepared to offer several amendments addressing concerns regarding the bill’s private cause of action clause. “Private cause of action” means that anyone can sue another person suspected of providing, aiding or abetting an abortion. Effectively, enforcement is not the state’s responsibility but instead is bounty-style process with rewards of at least $10,000.

The actual reach of these provisions has yet to be seen, and the bill leaves us with more questions than answers on what will constitute “aiding and abetting.” It is nearly impossible to obtain an abortion without support or assistance in some manner. A woman may interact with dozens of professionals, not just the physician performing the abortion. She may seek consultation with her family, friends and religious leaders before making a decision. And once she has decided to move forward with the process, she may need a ride — by way of public transportation, Uber or Lyft, and she may need financial assistance through her bank, a loan or donations. Under SB 8, any of the people involved, whether or not they support the choice she makes, are at risk of being sued.

The Texas Women’s Health Caucus, or TWHC, led the legislative fight against SB 8. Members of the TWHC and I prepared amendments, debated and appealed to our colleagues with data and public opinion to convince them to vote against the bill. We worked in tandem with advocacy groups to facilitate discussions about the consequences Texans would face if the bill became law and amplified the messages of hundreds of Texans who testified against the bill in committee. Ultimately, we could not stop the six-week ban from passing.

However, hope is not lost.

San Antonians, we will not waiver in our commitment to fight against these attacks in the Capitol and in the courts. SB 8 is unlike anything we have seen before — a de facto prohibition on abortions.

We can overcome this egregious barrier that seeks to divide communities and turn neighbors against each other, but it will not be a simple or short road. Please talk to the people in your networks and help spread the facts about this bill and the negative impacts it will have. If you can, please donate to or volunteer with organizations in the community doing this important work.

If you are a person seeking abortion care, please visit for information on abortion care in Texas. Together we will overcome this unconstitutional attack on our rights. We find solace in the knowledge that the fight for freedom is never over, but justice can be found along the way. We hope you stand with us.

Ina Minjarez has served as state representative for House District 124 since 2015 and is the Texas Women’s Health Caucus whip. The caucus has 52 members and includes San Antonio state Reps. Diego Bernal, Liz Campos, Barbara Gervin-Hawkins and Trey Martinez Fischer.

  • Melanie Cervantes
    published this page in NEWS 2021-11-15 17:36:15 -0600