"My body, my choice"... throw that out in the window in Texas.
The U.S Supreme Court has opened the gates to the most restrictive abortion rights bill in America so far. The Texas-enacted bill is known as SB8 (Senate Bill 8) and was commenced on September 1, 2021. SB8 challenges the 1973 Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision that legalized abortions with some limits.
Other states such as Georgia, Mississippi, Kentucky, and Ohio have proposed similar abortion laws banning them 18 weeks earlier than the legal standard set by Roe v Wade, but these laws are facing numerous legal barriers.
Due to SB8 banning abortions after six weeks of pregnancy, which is the time when the cardiac activity can be detected in the embryo, it not only implies that a seed-sized organism has more rights than a woman, but it makes it incredibly hard for females to even know whether or not they are pregnant.
Picture this: by the time a woman has missed her first period after implantation, it's already been four weeks. Now, say she gets positive on a pregnancy test. That means in two short weeks she would have to decide when, who, how, when, how to get an abortion.
“It is extremely possible and very common for people to get to the six-week mark and not know they are pregnant,” said Dr. Jennifer Villavicencio, a leader for 'Equity Transformation' at the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Furthermore, numerous women have irregular periods for various reasons and some don't track their periods that well. Then there is the nerve-wracking and shameful process of telling your parents. So undeniably, this law will be putting hundreds of thousands of women through this unnecessary pressure and frankly, it's sickening. How can you put someone in that frantic state? How is that ethical?
Moreover, to rebut how the indicator of life is at that 6-week timestamp, Dr. Villavicencio explains how the cardiac activity detected on an ultrasound is not a true heartbeat. Rather, the sound results from the electrical activity, but the valves of a heart haven't formed yet. And the sound does not indicate that the pregnancy will be viable. Thus, because the notion that a fetus has a heartbeat at 6 weeks can be challenged, it undermines the 6-week timestamp for an abortion cutoff highlighting one of the many illogicalities of the bill.
To continue, SB8 doesn't even make exceptions for rape or incest according to the New York Times. And while the bill does permit abortions for health reasons, a termination would only be allowed if the pregnancy could endanger a mother's life or lead to "irreversible impairment of a major bodily function," says Elizabeth Nash, a state policy analyst for the Guttmacher Institute, a research organization that supports abortion rights. But the margin for permitting abortions under health consideration gets even slimmer because “health providers will be very conservative about interpreting the law because they don’t want to cross a line.” They are scared because the law encharges private citizens to sue anyone who performs or abets in the procedure of an abortion.
Seriously, plaintiffs who have zero connection to the medical side of the procedure can sue a woman getting an abortion if they testify. So the uber driver who took her to the clinic could testify in court and sue the woman for getting an abortion!
And what's worse is that these random people are incentivized to enforce the law because they can get as much as $10,000 if they win. The bill is therefore saying, "the state is not going to be the one to enforce this law. Your neighbors are," says, Stephen Vladeck, a constitutional law professor at the University of Texas at Austin.
Ummm, excuse me, since when was that the way the rule of law worked?!
And like everything, different groups are affected in more severe ways. The groups who are affected most by the bill are -- take a guess -- low-income, colored, teenagers, and undocumented immigrants. In 2019, around 70% of abortions provided for women in Texas were given to women of color, according to the Guttmacher Institute.
In the legal world, the Biden administration has vowed to do everything in its power to thwart the bill. The administration has pulled together many resources such as the Gender-Focused Policy Council, the Office of the White House Council, Health and Human Services, and the Justice Department to embark on a government effort to respond to the Supreme Court's decision.
This bill puts into question American values; do we value conservatism and religion so much so as to ruin the lives of women in Texas? I for one am appalled and hope that unconstitutionality and immorality of SB8 will lead to its demise and dissuade any other attempts to dispossess women of the right to abort.