A Tragic Setback For Women’s Rights

PHOTO COURTESY/ Unsplash, Chris Boese

PHOTO COURTESY/ Unsplash, Chris Boese

Recently, much of America went into an uproar when Texas passed a law banning abortions past six weeks of pregnancy, when a heartbeat can be first detected. Women and men alike were posting all over social media about the news, drawing attention to this dramatic action taken in Texas. The law, named the Texas Heartbeat Act, was signed into law by Governor Greg Abbott on May 19. It was officially enacted on Sept. 1 and has led to the federal government suing Texas for blocking a constitutional right. 

For years, the ongoing abortion debate has been “pro-choice vs. pro-life.” The country is divided on this idea: a person is either on the side of women’s rights or the side of life, not both. But how does this law affect women who are going to encounter it?  Between 85 and 90 percent of the procedures performed in Texas were after the six-week period, according to a New York Times article. This is because many women don’t realize they are pregnant until after six weeks. 

Women who have conceived from rape or incest are not given exceptions to this law. There aren’t exceptions in cases where the pregnancy cannot come to term, but still has a heartbeat or when the fetus has a fatal condition.”

— Sharmin Haque

This law is a step back for women, as it rids them of their bodily autonomy. It unravels progress that was achieved fifty years ago in Roe v. Wade (1973) when the U.S. Supreme Court declared that a woman had a constitutional right to privacy and liberty, which overrides excess government interference if she chooses to have an abortion. The enforcement of this law is so strict that people can potentially sue anyone who helps a woman obtain an abortion, awarding them at least $10,000. Anyone from the Uber driver who drives her to the clinic to relatives of the patient to the doctor who performs the procedure. 

Women who have conceived from rape or incest are not given exceptions to this law. There aren’t exceptions in cases where the pregnancy cannot come to term, but still has a heartbeat or when the fetus has a fatal condition. The Times article further states: “The only exception is for medical emergencies, a term the law does not define.” 

This law, which concerns the livelihood of women, isn’t even clear on what constitutes legal abortion. It is a legal method to assert control over women’s bodies. It is a law that essentially bans abortion, with little remorse for serious circumstances that befall millions of women. 

This law just might spark protests similar to the Women’s March in 2017, one of the largest worldwide protests, which occurred after President Trump was elected president. One of those rights people marched for was reproductive rights. The outrage stemming from this issue is reminiscent of a past where women fought for their rights. There is fear that this law will eventually make its way into other states as well. We may likely see a resurgence of protests in the wake of this abortion law in Texas.