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CSWA Position Paper on Texas Abortion Law

06 Sep 2021 12:23 PM | CSWA Administrator (Administrator)


No matter what one’s position about abortion might be, the Texas abortion law, SB 8, that became operational on September 1st must necessarily raise grave concerns.  This law, prohibiting abortions as early as six weeks after conception, not only denies women in Texas their constitutional right to health care, but criminalizes the participation of anyone who “aids and abets” a woman seeking an abortion. (To read the full text of SB 8, go to https://capitol.texas.gov/tlodocs/87R/billtext/html/SB00008E.htm )

SB 8 poses an immediate threat to Texas LCSWs.  Using the consulting room to help clients work through the often traumatic decision to abort may now be seen as “aiding and abetting” in Texas.  Texas law is indirectly telling us that LCSWs can no longer provide a compassionate safe place for our patients to discuss difficult choices when an unwanted pregnancy occurs (no exceptions for rape or incest) without risking a $10,000 fine and attorney’s fees.

Limiting what can be talked about in the therapy session undermines our ethical standards and the confidentiality we guarantee, but there is another element of this new law that is even more chilling: enforcement of this new law is placed in the hands of private citizens, incentivizing a ‘bounty-hunter’ approach designed to intimidate.  Further, a spouse or family member who perceives an LCSW as supporting an abortion could report the clinician to authorities.

Purposely drafted to make it difficult to challenge in court, SB 8 carries the stench of Jim Crow, disproportionately impacting people of color, people with low-income, and other historically marginalized communities.  Nonetheless, legislatures in several other states are already drafting copycat legislation.

The disappointing refusal of the US Supreme Court in a 5-4 decision to consider the Texas law - with vigorous dissent from Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Sotomayor, Kagan, and Breyer - leaves the law in place for now.  However, some of the organizations actively fighting this blatantly unconstitutional law include the Lilith Fund, Whole Woman's Health Alliance, Inc., Texas Equal Access Fund, Jane's Due Process, Clinic Access Support Network, Support Your Sistah at the Afiya Center, West Fund, Fund Texas Choice, Frontera Fund, and The Bridge Collective, and the ACLU.  New challenges have already been filed.

CSWA supports all efforts to stop Texas from interfering in the work of clinical social workers, and will be working with our Texan colleagues who are clearly at risk if they treat women seeking abortions.  We are gathering information about the protection that may be available through malpractice insurance and other potential resources, if indeed other states follow the Texas lead.  We urge members to consider signing the petition prepared by Texas social worker Dr Monica Faulkner, PhD, LMSW, at https://www.change.org/StandWithSocialWorkers, and to pay close attention to what is happening in your local state legislatures.

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