Texas Abortion Ban Wrongly Withholds Women’s Rights

On September 1, 2021, the Heartbeat Act, also known as Senate Bill 8 (S.B. 8) was passed. This bill prohibits any abortion after a fetal heartbeat has been detected, typically around six weeks of gestation. According to an article written by CNN, “Reasons A Woman May Not Know She’s Pregnant at Six Weeks,” around 50% of women find out that they are pregnant after that benchmark. Due to S.B. 8, a person cannot make the decision to have an abortion after six weeks of pregnancy. 

However, the right to have an abortion has been a constitutional right since the 1973 Roe v. Wade case. Despite this, from 2010 to 2019, there have been over 483 new abortion restrictions. States such as Alabama, Florida and Idaho require parents of minors to give consent to get the procedure. In the state of Connecticut, the abortion procedure must be made at the hospital if the fetus is viable, there is no counseling necessary in Connecticut, and funds are given for most or all medical abortions.

“Counseling” is designed to dissuade an individual from having the procedure. During counseling, verbal or written information is provided to a woman about the procedure. The waiting period after counseling varies from state to state, with the minimum being 24 hours and the maximum going up to 72 hours.

Prior to the S.B. 8, Texas had many restrictions on abortion; there is a state implemented 24 hour waiting period, in which the person is given counseling. Prior to the procedure, the woman must undergo an ultrasound, where the provider must show and describe what is in the ultrasound. According to a factsheet by Guttmacher Institute, “State Facts About Abortion,” since 2014, the amount of abortions per year in Texas dropped by 8.8%, with the rate being 13.5 abortions per 1,000 women. 

When S.B. 8 was passed over two months ago, there was a lot of panic. Medical clinics that provided abortions shut down. This forced many people to go out of state to get an abortion, and those that can afford clinics in neighboring states head to Oklahoma, Colorado, and New Mexico. Those that have children, or the ones that could not afford it, are unfortunately left without much choice.  If the state of Texas continues to restrict rights to an abortion, there will be severe consequences for women. Prior to 1973, women were more likely to search for illegal and unsafe abortion procedures. According to another Guttmacher article, “Abortion Before and After Legalization,” after abortion was legalized, the number of illegal procedures dropped from 130,000 to 17,000 from the years 1972 to 1974, with the deaths decreasing from 39 to 5. If Texas were to realize this and revoke S.B. 8, they can avoid any deaths caused by unsafe abortion procedures. 

Medical professionals like Dr. Alan Braid refused to accept S.B. 8. Braid gave an abortion procedure to a patient even though she was already past the six week marking period, he did this knowing that he could be sued for $10,000. According to the Washington Post, where Braid wrote an opinion piece titled “Opinion: Why I Violated Texas’ Extreme Abortion Ban,” he said “…on the morning of Sept. 6, I provided an abortion to a woman who, though still in her first trimester, was beyond the state’s new limit. I acted because I had a duty of care to this patient, as I do for all patients, and because she has a fundamental right to receive this care.” Braid was a doctor since before the legalization of abortion in the seventies. During his first year of residency at a San Antonio hospital, he said “At the hospital that year, I saw three teenagers die from illegal abortions. One I will never forget. When she came into the ER, her vaginal cavity was packed with rags. She died a few days later from massive organ failure, caused by a septic infection.” This further proves the necessity of abortions provided by medical practitioners. Abortion is a constitutional right, as proven by Roe v. Wade, and the fact that Texas is violating it should be a crime itself. If other states take the example of S.B. 8 and make laws similar to it, there will be an inevitable increase in illegal abortions and, therefore, more deaths. 

Organizations like Planned Parenthood are fighting to remove the law from legislation in legal battles. Planned Parenthood is a non-profit organization that deals with reproductive health in America. Their clinics do provide abortion procedures and other medical procedures. Planned Parenthood includes information for anyone seeking help with their pregnancy. Their website includes links and information for the removal of Senate Bill 8.

S.B. 8 was brought to a case in the Supreme Court, where many hoped to get the law removed, but this ended in failure. Because of this, the law is still in place and still hurting women.

When people say “Our Body, Our Choice,” it is not just a saying to be ignored. It is a right that people have, and that right is constantly being harassed and assaulted by laws such as S.B. 8. All we can do and hope for is that one day it will finally be understood that women have the same rights as anyone in this country or world. If the United States continues to restrict abortions to the point where it is completely illegal, it will be like 1970 again. The government is going to take a step back, instead of a step forward in women’s rights.