Implications of the Texas abortion law

Kashish Balan and Siya Aparanji

When the topic of abortion is raised, several different legislations come to mind. From the 1821 restrictive law passed in Connecticut to today’s law in Texas – SB8 – , these controversial laws have curbed female body autonomy. 

On May 19, Texas governor Greg Abbott signed the Texas Heartbeat Act, a bill that prohibits abortions once the fetal heartbeat is detected; this usually happens during the sixth week of a women’s pregnancy. This act took effect on September 1, and before this, abortions in Texas were allowed up to 20 weeks post-fertilization. According to this bill, any physician that performs an abortion on women who are past six weeks of pregenancy can be sued, and there are no exceptions for rape victims. Today’s policy may seem abrupt, but it is a cumulative result of legal actions taken in the past. 

In 1973, Jane Roe, a single pregnant woman, filed a lawsuit against Henry Wade, the district attorney of Dallas County. Roe challenged the Texas law that outlawed abortions unless the woman’s life was in danger. Roe argued that this law went against her rights. As a result, the Supreme Court concluded that abortion was a protected right for women. 

In the Planned Parenthood v. Casey court case of 1992, Planned Parenthood challenged a Pennsylvanian abortion control law that required a 24-hour waiting period to get consent for the operation from a parent or a spouse. The court ruled in favor of Planned Parenthood and restated from Roe v. Wade, “The constitutionally protected liberty of the woman to decide to have an abortion before the fetus attains viability and to obtain it without undo interference from the State”. 

In other words, the Supreme Court ruled against the Pennsylvanian law because it went against the foundation set by Roe v. Wade. Due to the same reasoning, other laws that outlaw abortion before that gestation period should not go into effect. 

Unlike most of these laws, however, the Texas law places the power to enforce its policies on civilians along with a ban on abortion once a heartbeat is detected. For example, Texans are now encouraged to report females that get abortions and sue anyone that assists the person getting an abortion. 

But of course people wouldn’t turn in their family, friends, acquaintances, or even peers right? It’s simply a matter of respecting privacy, right? Wrong. In fact, the new law has offered a financial incentive of $10,000 for each person a civilian exposes for aiding the person getting the abortion, including their doctor. 

In theory, the plaintiff can make several tens of thousands of dollars by simply revealing the patient’s doctor and even the patient’s Uber driver, since they helped the person recieving an abortion arrive at the clinic. 

The other appalling aspect of SB8, also known as the heartbeat bill, is its restriction on abortion six weeks after conception. This brings up the age-old debate of female anatomy. In most cases, the thought of being pregnant doesn’t even cross a person’s mind until after six weeks due to simple female anatomical irregularities.

SB8 currently poses a major threat to biological females in Texas. Not only does it perpetuate blatant misogyny by restricting a person’s right over their own body, but it also creates hostility between civilians. By empowering Texas citizens to enforce the law, the Texan government has made the grave mistake of furthering the politicization of healthcare. 

Regardless of conflicting opinions or restrictions on abortions, they will continue to happen. Legislators need to understand that the only way to reduce abortions is to improve sex education, not pass bills that unveil unethical, illegal, and most importantly, unsafe paths to abortion. When an issue affects a certain group of society, it is only logical to allow them a platform to advocate for themselves.