By: A. Melcon
Currently, the law tackling abortion in Texas highlights that abortion after 6 weeks have passed since contraception, essentially once cardiac activity can be detected in the embryo, has been banned. This decision was made despite the 1973 supreme court decision which established that abortion was a constitutional right, and it should be available to all women until the baby is at least a while older, giving the mother and family more time to think through decisions and decide whether they would wish to go through with the pregnancy or abort.
As now women are being given only 6 weeks to have the right to an abortion, decisions of keeping the baby or not are having to be rushed between couples. This is an extremely early date in the pregnancy, as most women only find out they are pregnant when they miss their period, so around 4 weeks in. This gives them only 2 weeks to confirm the pregnancy, make the huge decision of keeping a baby or not, and attain the abortion. This leads to a forced and rushed decision, possibly impacting the mother’s mental health and straining the parents, making this change of the law considerately unethical.
The law has a few exceptions, allowing the termination after the 6 weeks if the mother’s life may be at danger or the pregnancy and birth may lead to a “substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function”. However, the law doesn’t make any exceptions for rape or incest.
This law is planned to be enforced by the citizens, as the government has regarded this a better way of establishing this new rule. This will be done in a series of ways, one being that private citizens can sue anybody even if they do not have connection to the patient or clinic. If they win in court, they will then win 10,000 dollars. This will provide initiative for people to ensure that nor clinics nor mothers disobey this law as anybody who finds out could sue them for large sums of money. However, the patient could not be sued.
Texas has not been the first state to adopt this law, as other states in the USA, including Georgia, Mississipi, Kentucky and Ohio, also have similar laws. Despite this, legal standards which have been set by Roe v. Wade allow abortion up when the fetus can almost survive outside the womb, around 24 weeks.
Due to this new law, estimates have said that around 85% of people seeking abortions in Texas won’t manage to legally attain the procedure anymore. It is also important to recognize that vulnerable people, mainly teenagers, low-income people and people of color, have been affected more. For example, 70% of abortions in Texas in 2019 were people of color, demonstrating that this minority will now be more compromised due to this change in the law.