Daily Video

September 3, 2021

Daily News Lesson: Supreme Court allows restrictive abortion law in Texas to go forward


Directions: Read the summary, watch the video and answer the discussion questions. Some students may find it easier to read along with the transcript or turn on closed captions/CC.

Summary: In Texas, abortions have all but ended after a late-night decision from the U.S. Supreme Court that kept in effect a new state law banning the procedure once a fetal heartbeat is detected, about 6 weeks into a pregnancy. The new law allows private citizens to sue — and to collect $10,000, if successful — anyone who performs, helps, or supports an abortion after the sixth week of pregnancy; this is before many women realize they are pregnant. While abortion rights advocates try to figure out their next legal step, anti-abortion activists are preparing for their role as enforcers of the new law.

Discussion questions: 

Warm up questions: Have your students identify the 5Ws and an H:

  • Who is interviewed for this piece, and what is her role?
  • What mechanism is used to enforce the new abortion law that makes it a new type of legal structure?
  • When does the new law go into effect?
  • Where must women seeking abortions after six weeks of pregnancy go if they live in Texas?
  • Why is this new law likely to continue to face legal challenges?
  • How are abortion rights advocates responding to the new law?

Focus questions:

  1. What do you think are the consequences of allowing individual citizens to sue other citizens if they believe they’ve had an abortion or helped someone seek an abortion?
  2. What would be the consequence of allowing citizens to sue fellow citizens for other actions the state makes illegal?

Media literacy: Why do you think the producers chose to interview a local Texas reporter for this piece?

Additional resources:

  • The Supreme Court voted 5-4 to allow the law to go into effect for now, though it may hear legal challenges later. The Court’s order along with dissents are available to read here.
  • This article in the Atlantic explores how the law was designed to be difficult to challenge. Though some experts believe the law may backfire for those that wrote and passed it.
  • Learn about the 1973 Supreme Court case Roe v. Wade which legalized abortion in the U.S. using this WBUR piece, Abortion Rights Advocates Worry About Future Of Roe V. Wade After Supreme Court Allows Texas Law.
  • For more information on the history of abortion in the U.S. from the mid-19th century to the 1973 Roe v. Wade Supreme Court case, read this CNN article. You may also want to learn about the 1992 Supreme Court case Planned Parenthood v. Casey, which changed the standard to preventing states from creating a substantial obstacle to abortion.

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