Texas legislators recently passed a horrific bill prohibiting abortions after six weeks, before most women even know they are pregnant. With narrow exceptions for health complications, the ban substantially infringes on the constitutional right of women to have the procedure that Roe V. Wade protected.
The ban fails to make exceptions for rape or incest. Instead, it allows citizens to sue people who helped terminate a pregnancy for $10,000. Texas’ abortion law is a frightening step backward of human rights and should concern us all — whether we have uteruses or not.
History of Abortion
Our nation’s abortion history is not pleasant. Before Roe v. Wade, illegal abortions were common and dangerous. Lack of access to legal abortion did not prevent women from having abortions but instead resulted in unsafe abortions in unsafe conditions. Abortion became the number one cause of maternal death and mutilation.
However, in 1973, the Roe v. Wade case altered women’s rights, finally giving them access to safe abortions. In their landmark decision which still stands today, the Supreme Court ruled that restrictive state regulation of abortion was unconstitutional.
In addition, the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment protects a woman’s rights to privacy. Legally, a woman’s right to an abortion has a higher weight than the “potentiality of human life.” An unborn embryo or fetus has no constitutional rights until 24-28 weeks. Yet, the Supreme Court failed to block the bill on Sept. 1, allowing for the law to go into effect, affecting millions of women in Texas.
Why These Laws are Wrong
This latest abortion law is a recent attempt at regulating women’s bodies. Other states are actively searching for ways around Roe v. Wade to restrict and ban abortions, including Utah.
However, medical experts have criticized Texas’s so-called “heartbeat bill.” The “heartbeat” detected by six weeks in an embryo is not a true heartbeat. Instead, it is a cardiac activity that does not indicate viability.
Most women don’t regularly take pregnancy tests, so missed periods are a common indication of a potential pregnancy. This generally occurs around four weeks of pregnancy, giving women only two weeks to make a decision. This law assumes that women’s periods are on a tight schedule. However, irregular periods are common, a medical fact that these primarily male legislators have chosen to ignore. Restricting a woman’s rights by giving her little time to make a medical decision is antithetical to the precedent set by the Supreme Court protecting our right to privacy.
Women do not use abortion as birth control. It is exhaustive — emotionally and physically. Pregnancy itself is not an easy ordeal. Options like adoption and foster care may alleviate a woman’s concerns over the child’s well-being, but there are still health effects that exist post-pregnancy. Some women may face chronic conditions like pain or bladder issues and postpartum depression for years.
There is still no contraceptive that eliminates the risk of pregnancy. Creating laws while this technology is still being developed punishes women for having sex. Having sex does not mean you consent to being pregnant, and forcing women to risk their health and well-being while their male sexual partners face no punishment is an egregious human rights violation.
The consequences of this law put women’s lives at risk. Accessibility to abortion doesn’t reduce abortion. It only reduces safe abortions. Approximately 7% of women in the United States will attempt a self-managed abortion. Women forced to carry out pregnancies against their will are left with tragic, potentially deadly options.
Victims of rape or incest, especially children, should not have to carry a pregnancy to term. It is heartbreaking to know that children will be forced to have children without developing properly under these new restrictions. Forced birth can result in trauma that no person should have to face simply because of their body’s potential to have a child. Victims of sexual violence, whether adult or child, deserve to be treated as humans. This new Texas law clearly shows that Texas and the “pro-life” community are not “pro-life” at all, but rather pro-birth, anti-woman and anti-child.
Texas’ list of medical conditions that would allow a woman to obtain an abortion after six weeks is unclear. In addition, allowing private citizens to sue those involved in abortion after six weeks is a recipe for disaster. Frivolous lawsuits will waste taxpayer dollars and target those who are trying to help women.
Leaving citizens in charge of vigilante justice against individuals allows the Texas state government to wipe their hands clean of any damage created by these laws. These political leaders, who were put in power to help their constituents, are abandoning their vows and treading on women’s rights to advance their political endeavors.
In America, you can expect to be treated for lung cancer even if you smoked your entire life or saved from a heart attack even you are incarcerated for murder. Even those who refuse to get the COVID-19 vaccine are still hospitalized if they contract the virus.
Everyone deserves the right to their health in the U.S. However, in Texas, abortion is now the only medical procedure that can be denied based on how the patient got into the situation. Denying human beings’ personal choices is an incredibly dangerous path, and yet this is acceptable to Republicans because the victims of this law are women. If Republicans want to lower the number of abortions performed, they should turn to proven methods that don’t hurt women.
The penalty for rape is lower than that of a woman seeking an abortion. The path to taking away our right to privacy is a slippery slope, and steps to infringe on human rights should be seen as alarming to us all. Texas’ new law tells women in America that their lives, well-being and personal choice are seen as less important than an embryo. Even if you aren’t a woman, we should all be worried about the future of our so-called “developed” nation.