Though six-week abortion bans are typically preempted in court, the nature of Texas’s latest ban makes it difficult to do so. Rather than being enforced by the state, the law, Senate Bill 8, deploys private citizens as its enforcement agents, encouraging them to file lawsuits against people they suspect of obtaining or providing abortions after six weeks. This provision has stymied groups like Planned Parenthood and the Center for Reproductive Rights from challenging the law in court, since technically they are not allowed to name the Texas attorney general or any state officials in their suit—the typical defendants in such cases—since those officials will not be the ones enforcing the law.


The pro-abortion rights plaintiffs have tried to get around this legal technicality by instead suing “every state judge and every court clerk” they can think of, Rewire’s Imani Gandy explained, “because [those judges and clerks] might be called upon to help enforce the law in the future by participating in the civil lawsuits.” Still, it may not work: A preliminary injunction hearing originally scheduled for Monday—which could have potentially blocked S.B. 8—was cancelled last week.

It’s a confusing law. But the gist is that a legal loophole could allow the legislation to be implemented on Sept. 1, forcing abortion providers to comply, and preventing anyone in the state from obtaining an abortion after the six-week mark—at least in a clinic. After Gov. Greg Abbott issued an executive order banning abortion for nearly four weeks in March 2020, researchers found a 94 percent increase in Texans who requested abortion pills from Aid Access, a telemedicine site that mails people the medication from overseas. It’s safe to assume that many of the people who requested the pills received them, and gave themselves abortions outside of a clinic or hospital setting.


Wells said Plan C wants to reassure Texans that, come Wednesday, they don’t necessarily have to cross state lines to access abortion care. (And indeed, many of them would not be able to anyway.) Though people who perform self-managed abortions can be criminalized, authorities have found it difficult to trace abortion pills that are sent by mail—which is increasingly how people in hostile states are accessing abortion, regardless of what abortion laws may be on the books. Even people in abortion-friendly states, like New York and California, have come to prefer this method for its convenience, affordability, and privacy.

“It’s the 21st century: We have a safe technology, and it’s available to people by mail, even in Texas,” Wells said. “We want people to know they don’t have to travel to have a safe abortion.”