Nov. 15, 2021
Known as Senate Bill 8, the most restrictive abortion law in the country went into effect in Texas on Sept. 1. It is rightfully inciting outrage among people of all ages, and not just women.
The legislation deems abortion illegal once a heartbeat is detected. A heartbeat can be detected as early as six weeks, before many women are aware they are even pregnant. It has no exceptions for rape or incest, and doctors who perform these procedures and anyone else aware of the abortion can face a $10,000 fine. There is also talk of investigating miscarriages and stillbirths, and possibly taking legal action in the form of criminal charges.
This ban directly violates the 1973 Supreme Court ruling in Roe v. Wade, which established that during a pregnant woman’s first trimester, a state cannot regulate abortion except to require that the procedure be performed by a licensed doctor in medically safe conditions. A state may prohibit abortions in the third trimester unless an abortion is necessary to save the life or health of the mother, and a state may regulate abortions in the second trimester in certain circumstances.
The Texas abortion law has been overturned and reinstated multiple times, and it has now reached the Supreme Court, which heard oral arguments on Nov. 1. Although the Supreme Court decided to hear this case, it refused to block the law in the meantime.
While some women are lucky enough to be able to go to another state for an abortion, others are not as fortunate.
Whether or not it is by coincidence, this ban is discriminatory, as it mostly affects undocumented, poor and underaged women. Undocumented immigrants in Texas are less likely to travel out of state for an abortion due to the risk of deportation at inland immigration checkpoints that are located about 100 miles from the southern border.
While some women are lucky enough to be able to go to another state for an abortion, others are not as fortunate. Many people do not have the financial means to travel or the ability to take time off of work. For these women, an abortion is not obtainable, which means they are forced to have children they do not want or cannot support.
In addition to the responsibility of raising a child, pregnancy takes a huge toll on a woman’s health and body, usually resulting in permanent changes. For those suffering from other medical issues, it may even pose a risk to the woman’s life.
Not only does pregnancy affect a woman’s physical health but mental as well. According to the New Jersey Department of Health, 10-20% of women suffer from postpartum depression. Between 1-6% of women experience post-traumatic stress disorder after childbirth, with rape and sexual abuse being among the risk factors.
ILLUSTRATION BY CAROLINA AGUILAR
Having a child changes a person’s life forever. It often hinders women from completing their education and, especially in the case of teen moms, it affects their life plans and social relationships. Some parents are so angry or disappointed that they even resort to kicking their pregnant teenagers out of the house, leaving them with no place to go and without financial support.
If this ban remains in effect, women will undoubtedly seek other ways to have an abortion, as they did prior to Roe v. Wade. These methods—which include herbal remedies, self-injury and over-the-counter medications—often endanger the woman’s health.
Abortions will inevitably continue. This ban is not putting a stop to abortions, only safe ones.
There is a multitude of reasons a woman may seek an abortion, but a woman should not need a reason to engage in a safe medical procedure. Some women simply do not want children or feel the timing is not right. The point is that it should be up to the woman because it affects her body. With an expedited review of the Texas abortion law underway, it is imperative that the Supreme Court make the decision to preserve Roe v. Wade and protect women’s rights.