Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed a law Wednesday allowing anyone in the state to sue over an abortion performed after six weeks of pregnancy. The law—a twist on so-called “heartbeat” bills that have gained popularity among abortion foes in recent years—allows citizens to file suit against physicians who perform the procedure, staff at the abortion clinic, and even friends and family members who help the patient get to their appointment. Minimum suggested damages are $10,000.
Supporters, like Texas Right to Life, previously hailed the bill as “the strongest Pro-Life bill to ever reach the Texas House floor.” Critics say the law is one of the most extreme in the country, and sets a “dangerous precedent” for moving to effectively ban abortion at a point before most women even know they’re pregnant.
“The goal is clear: to relentlessly attack our reproductive rights until abortion is a right in name only,” Alexis McGill Johnson, president of Planned Parenthood Action Fund, said in a statement. “Passing these bills is not leadership, it is cruelty and extremism.”
The law was set to take effect on Sept. 1, and was also virtually certain to face legal challenges.