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Texas Abortion Bill: The Loss of Reproductive Rights

Updated: Nov 11, 2021

In 2021, women’s rights have transformed from the archaic beliefs of past centuries, where voting or was out of the question; women’s finances and properties were tied to their husband; and the traditional, heteronormative, submissive housewife was the only role a woman could be. Today, a woman can be a renowned philosopher (much to Aristotle’s dismay), at the forefront of scientific discovery, climate change activist, a talented novelist, a strong leader of her household as a stay-at-home mom; whatever she chooses is hers to take. That is the guiding voice of 2021: choice. Choice is freedom, and freedom is a right.

This freedom was threatened when Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed new anti-abortion legislation that went into effect on September 1st. The Heartbeat Bill is the U.S.’s most restrictive abortion measure: any pregnant person cannot terminate their pregnancy past six weeks. For a menstruator, six weeks is two weeks after a missed menstrual cycle, meaning the legislature effectively bans abortions completely. “To call it a six-week ban—it’s really a two-week window at best,” said Katherine Kraschel, a lecturer at Yale Law School and expert on reproductive health policy. “That would be if the pregnancy test was taken the day [the menstruator] missed their period, and assuming they have a four-week menstrual cycle.” Not only is the legislation an attack on reproductive choice, but it is also ignorant of the damage it will do to its constituents. The Center for Disease and Control estimates that 36% of abortions in 2018 occurred at or before six weeks. If the Heartbeat Bill had been in effect in 2018, 64% of pregnant people would have been forced to carry their pregnancies to term—regardless of whether the fetus would be at risk of stillbirth or serious birth defects, have financial and/or emotional burden, put the pregnant person’s career on the backseat, or if it was resultant from a traumatic rape.

Graphic from 19th News

The six-week ban is not uncommon. In fact, Texas is the 13th state to sign the ban into law, North Carolina having been the first to pass the ban in 2013. What makes Texas different is that it is the first state of the thirteen to not have its bill blocked by either a lower federal court or a state supreme court. Given the Heartbeat Bill is unconstitutional under Roe v. Wade, it is tricky to determine how long it will last. However, the Supreme Court did not respond to a request to block the abortion ban from going into effect. As long as the ban remains standing, more people will be forced to drum up expenses to get an abortion in another state, more unsafe abortions will take place, and more lives will be destroyed.

Written by: Neha Kedarnath Dubhashi

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