On Texas' Abortion Bill | Bella Hirst
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article do not reflect the opinions of Pulse Magazine as a whole.
If you’ve been on social media at all this past week, you’ve no doubt heard about the Texas abortion ban. But, what does this bill mean exactly?
Texas Senate Bill 8 bans all abortions after cardiac activity can be detected - usually around six weeks. For context, most women won’t miss their period until they’re around four weeks pregnant (and that’s only if they're regular). In the vast majority of cases, women won’t even know they’re pregnant, let alone have time to process it and make a decision, before that six week mark. The only exception to this law is if carrying out the pregnancy would result in death or serious harm to the mother. To clarify: rape is not considered a viable reason to terminate a pregnancy.
Texas legislators wrote the bill in a very calculated way in an effort to avoid Supreme Court intervention. The law essentially allows citizens to uphold it, rather than the government. Anyone can sue a doctor who performs an abortion, an employee of the clinic where the abortion took place, even an Uber driver who took a woman to get an abortion, and can win up to $10,000. They cannot, however, sue the patient.
Texas Right To Life, a prominent anti-abortion group in Texas, created a website called ProLifeWhistleblower.com where people could report violations of the law. The website was famously spammed with Shrek memes, but its biggest blow was arguably when its host, GoDaddy.com, announced that it would stop hosting the website, as it was in violation of their terms of service. They told the group that they had 24 hours to find a new host, or the website was getting shut down. They did find a new host, right-wing provider Epik. However, Epik too decided that the website violated their terms of service because of its collection of people’s information without their consent. Ultimately, the website is staying up, just without its ability to collect user submissions, effectively destroying the entire point of the website.
Other states have tried to pass similar laws, including Georgia, Ohio, Mississippi, and Kentucky, but have been unsuccessful, in large part due to the landmark 1973 case Roe v. Wade. Jane Roe (a fake name used to protect her identity, who we now know as Laura McCorvey), a single pregnant woman, sued the Dallas County DA, Henry Wade, claiming that the Texas abortion laws were unconstitutional. In a 7-2 decision, the court declared that the right to an abortion exists under the Due Process Clause of the 14th amendment - the right to personal privacy. This precedent has blocked restrictive abortion laws...until now.
When Texas’s law was first passed, many called on the Supreme Court to uphold Roe v. Wade and block it. In a 5-4 decision, they didn’t. Conservative Justices Brett Cavanaugh, Neil Gorsuch, Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas, and Amy Coney Barrett voted not to block it, while liberal justices Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan, and Stephen Breyer, as well as conservative Chief Justice John Roberts, voted to block it. President Biden called the decision an “unprecedented assault” on women’s rights, and Press Secretary Jen Psaki said that Biden wants to see the Roe v. Wade precedent enacted into law.
The Supreme Court decision is a disappointing, and unfortunately not surprising, attack on reproductive rights. It will disproportionately affect low-income women who don’t have the resources to travel to another state to get an abortion. If someone doesn’t have the resources to travel to another state, they certainly don’t have the resources to undergo a pregnancy, let alone raise a child. And even if they do, they shouldn’t have to. The government has no place in telling anyone what they can and can’t do with their body. Abortion laws don’t save lives, they force births. So let me be very clear: pro choice. All day. Every day.