Social workers, lawyers of sexual assault victims file lawsuits against Texas’ fetal heartbeat bill

Texas Politics

AUSTIN (Nexstar) — Senate Bill 8, known as the “fetal heartbeat bill,” officially takes effect next week on Sept. 1, and it’s already facing lawsuits.

The bill would allow any Texas citizen to sue someone who performs an abortion or aids or abets in the process, if a heartbeat is detected in the womb. That usually happens within the first six weeks of pregnancy.

The damage award could add up to $10,000.

‘Aiding’ could include anything from giving a car ride to someone receiving the abortion, to giving advice, to donating to clinics that perform abortions.

That’s why social workers and a woman who regularly donates to women’s health clinics are filing lawsuits against the state.

“My specific case regards donors, because the aiding and abetting definition, simply donating to places like Planned Parenthood count as aiding and abetting an abortion,” Allie Van Stean, a lawyer in Plan, explained.

“If I’m donating to Planned Parenthood, I’m not necessarily giving with the intent to assist women in getting an abortion. Planned Parenthood and other places provide necessary and needed services like birth control at a lower cost, affordable option for women who can’t afford it. They provide other important and necessary reproductive services for women, like general pap smears,” Van Stean said, pointing to the ripple effect the bill could have on women’s health care overall in Texas.

Monica Faulkner is also filing a suit against the state. She’s a social worker and is concerned how this could affect her when she helps victims of sexual assault or abuse.

“I’ve been a social worker for 20 years now. I’ve worked with sexual assault survivors throughout my career in various capacities. And it just is absurd to me to think that my work with survivors would cost me $10,000,” Faulkner explained.

“Talking with a sexual assault survivor means providing them all the information and answering all their questions, because they’ve had so much power taken from them, that my job in my role is to give them information and to listen to them and to process that information,” Faulkner said.

She explained she works with survivors of all ages and just wants them to know all of their options.

“Some of them have had a pregnancy that was a result of that assault. Some of them chose to parent, some of them chose abortion, some of them chose adoption. It’s not my place to judge, it’s their choice,” Faulkner said.

These lawsuits are filed against the state. There’s also another lawsuit filed against the bill pending federal court, filed by 20 abortion providers.

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