(AP) – The nation’s most far-reaching curb on abortions has taken effect in Texas, with the Supreme Court silent so far on an emergency appeal to put the law on hold.
If allowed to remain in force, the law would be the most dramatic restriction on abortion rights in the United States since the high court’s landmark Roe v. Wade decision legalized abortion across the country in 1973.
The Texas law, which was signed by Republican Gov. Greg Abbott in May and took effect at midnight, would prohibit abortions once a fetal heartbeat can be detected, usually around six weeks and before most women even know they’re pregnant.
It’s part of a broader push by Republicans across the country to impose new restrictions on abortion.
At least 12 other states have enacted bans early in pregnancy, but all have been blocked from going into effect.
What makes the Texas law different is its unusual enforcement scheme.
Rather than have officials responsible for enforcing the law, private citizens are authorized to sue abortion providers and anyone involved in facilitating abortions.
Among other situations, that would include anyone who drives a woman to a clinic to get an abortion.
Under the law, anyone who successfully sues another person would be entitled to at least $10,000.