The Fetal Heartbeat Abortion Ban
One of the most controversial laws that take effect on this date is Texas’s Fetal Heartbeat Abortion Ban law. This law has caught the attention of the entire nation with the unique way that it was written, as well as for the fact that the United States Supreme Court has voted to uphold it.
This new law allows private citizens to sue anyone in Texas who assists a woman in getting an abortion after the fetus’s heartbeat can be detected. In most cases, the fetal heartbeat can be detected as early as six weeks, which is prior to the date that most women even know that they are pregnant.
Further, the new law targets literally anyone who helps a woman get an abortion in the state after a heartbeat can be detected. Private citizens can sue a variety of people, including:
- Abortion providing doctors
- Nurses who work at abortion clinics
- Receptionists and secretaries at abortion clinics
- Uber, Lyft and taxi drivers who take women to abortion appointments
- Parents who urge their daughters to get abortions
- Friends who drive or walk into abortion appointments with women
Anyone who is sued for assisting a woman in getting an abortion after the point of a heartbeat being detected can be targeted with a lawsuit and be fined up to $10,000.
This law is unlike other anti-abortion laws that other states have tried to enact. It does not criminalize the act of getting an abortion. Instead, it permits private Texas citizens to sue anyone who assists in the obtaining of an abortion. Critics of it, however, say that it still restricts a woman’s right to abortion services, and the law is now subject to federal investigations.
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On September 1, 2021, Texas also legalized permitless carry for lawful gun owners 21 years of age and older. The state will no longer require gun owners to obtain a license to carry a firearm outside of one’s home or in one’s vehicle.
State Bill (SB) 1927 lets anyone who can legally own a gun in Texas also carry it in public without a permit, so long as the firearm is kept in a holster. With that, Texas becomes the 20th state to allow for permitless carry, which Second Amendment advocates say is constitutional and guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution.
The bill does not change the criteria for legal gun ownership in Texas, however. Citizens must be 21 years of age and cannot serve or have served a sentence for for a felony or any kind of family violence in the last five years.
Gun owners also cannot have been convicted of offenses like:
- Assault causing bodily injury
- Deadly conduct
- Terroristic threats
- Disorderly conduct with a firearm
As long as gun owners meet these requirements, they can carry a gun in public or in their vehicles in Texas without a permit.
New Voting Laws
Texas has a number of new voting laws coming into effect in September. For example, SB 1111 bans voters in the state from registering with post office box addresses as a primary address. Likewise, SB 1113 permits the state’s Secretary of State reduce funds to voting registrars who do not eliminate certain voters from the rolls.
House Bill (HB) 3920 makes it more challenging to apply for mail-in ballots for medical reasons. HB 1382 is a bipartisan measure that lets Texas voters track their mail-in ballots digitally to ensure that they were received and counted.
Finally, HB 1128 defines the people who are permitted to be in polling places during elections. The approved people, as this bill outlines, include:
- Election workers
- Poll watchers
- Election judges
- Law enforcement
Election administrators and staff are also permitted to be in polling places but only to provide technical support and drop off supplies.
Roadway or Hospital Entrance Blocking Bill
Another House Bill that went into effect in Texas on September 1, 2021 made it illegal for protesters to block roadways or entrances that lead to hospitals. HB 9 makes it a felony for anyone to purposely block a roadway or a hospital entrance. This bill comes in response to the riots and protests that took place during the Summer of 2020, which saw protesters block roads and prevent ambulances and law enforcement from getting patients to hospitals.
People who are found guilty of this offense face a range of penalties. They can even be sentenced to up to two years in prison. People who are on probation and found guilty of this offense can be sentenced to an additional 10 days behind bars.
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Critical Race Theory Ban
HB 3979 restricts the teaching of Critical Race Theory in public schools. This new law now makes it illegal for public school teachers to teach about racism and race while making white students feel guilty about it.
Lawmakers behind this bill say that it is important for students to learn about the ills of society and the history of the country. However, they have made it against the law to blame current generations of students for what took place.
Opponents of this law, however, say that CRT is a valid way of making students understand how racism has affected laws in the country. They argue that it helps student see race and understand racism in places where where it might not otherwise be apparent to students.
Protection of Trucking Companies from Lawsuits
Finally, HB 19 makes it more difficult for Texans to sue trucking companies for accidents. This new law allows these companies to ask for two-part trials. The first part of the trial permits the actions of the driver during the wreck to be examined while the second allows the trucking company to be sued if the driver is found negligent in the first.
Critics of the law say that it could make it more challenging for people to bring lawsuits against trucking companies to recover medical expenses and lost income. However, the Texas Trucking Association argues that the new law will curb frivolous, abusive and shallow lawsuits against hardworking truck drivers and honest trucking companies. Advocates also say it will encourage drivers in Texas to be more aware and careful while behind the wheel.
These new laws are just a few that come into effect in Texas starting on September 1, 2021. They have the ability to impact the way that you live your everyday life in the state. You can make adjustments as needed and know by what new laws you must abide while you carry out your everyday routine.