The Texas Abortion Ban: A Violation of Women’s Rights?

Thousands+of+women+protest+the+Texas+abortion+ban+at+the+Texas+Capitol+on+Saturday.+%28Credit%3A+Reuters%29

Thousands of women protest the Texas abortion ban at the Texas Capitol on Saturday. (Credit: Reuters)

On September 1st, the Supreme Court allowed an allegedly restrictive Texas abortion law to go into effect. Also known as the Texas Heartbeat Act, this law bars abortion from the moment there is a detectable heartbeat, which is usually towards the six-week mark of a pregnancy. What does this law entail for pregnant women, and is it even effective in any way? 

The six-week time frame this law created causes significant problems for pregnant women because most do not know if they are pregnant after six weeks. Junior Gili Gavriel says that six weeks is a “very limited amount of time to make a decision”. Pregnancy is an extremely emotionally and physically draining process, and the decision to go through it should not lie in the hands of politicians. “No one should tell anyone what to do with their body,” said junior Eliana Sadykov. Even if a woman knew she was pregnant at four weeks, that would only leave her two weeks to make a life-changing and painful decision. The only exception to this law is if the pregnancy were to affect the mother’s health, while pregnancies from cases of rape or incest are neglected. This means that a woman would be forced to birth a child that she did not choose to have. 

Thousands of women protest the Texas abortion ban at the Texas Capitol on Saturday. (Credit: Reuters)

The extremity of this law is not the only factor that sets it apart from other existing abortion laws, but also its inclusion of citizens. Through this law, any private citizen anywhere in the United States can sue an abortion provider. If  the plaintiff wins the case, they can receive at least $10,000 in damages. If the defendant wins the case, they are given no assistance in covering legal costs. 

It is not only people opposing the law who will be negatively impacted by it. Supporters of this law can also face the consequences as citizens may sue one another in search of economic benefit. 

While abortion supporters argue that abortion laws reduce the occurrence of abortions, that is not necessarily true. Since this is a state law, pregnant women can flee the state and get an abortion elsewhere. This, however, is not easy, so many pregnant women resort to using abortion pills, homemade remedies, and even self-harm. “Women will only end up harming themselves because they will still want to get an abortion even with the presence of abortion laws,” said junior Shai Shoshani. The abortion law claims to make an exception for women who are being harmed by the pregnancy but overlooks that women may harm themselves due to the pregnancy.   

Attorney General Merrick Garland said on Thursday that a new Texas abortion law “was clearly unconstitutional”(The Wall Street Journal).

The Justice Department has reacted to this law by suing Texas, stating the law was unconstitutional. It argued that the Constitution’s 14th amendment is the basis for the Supreme Court’s recognition of a constitutional right to an abortion. The Biden administration has also been in support of finding ways to challenge the Texas abortion ban.