Texas’ Abortion Law

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Image via Pexels

Divya Sharma, Online Sports Editor

On September 1, one of the most restrictive abortion laws ever, Senate Bill 8 (SB 8) also known as the “heartbeat law,” took effect in the state of Texas. One of the most significant portions of the bill states that an abortion clinic or doctor has to initially do an ultrasound procedure on a woman to detect whether there exists fetal heart activity. Scientifically, according to the University of Texas at Austin, fetal heart activity is any form of cardiac activity that occurs in the gestational sac. Heart activity can be discovered even before the full development of the physical heart within a fetus; generally, the heart activity is first detected by the first 5-6 weeks of carrying the embryo. In the case of SB 8, physicians are not allowed to perform the abortion procedure if they detect fetal heart activity which means abortions can not occur starting at the first 5 weeks of pregnancy except in cases of critical medical emergencies. In addition, anyone who aides the patient in the abortion can be sued and lawyers have been given incentives to not challenge this bill. 

This law has generated a lot of backlashes and was even brought before the Supreme Court the same day it passed. Many pro-choice groups and supporters have stated that this law is unfair and does not take into account the reproductive cycle and health of people who can become pregnant. For instance, senior Yael Tuckman stated, “Being 2 weeks late on your period is not adequate time to get an abortion. People have to get a pregnancy test, confirm with a doctor about the pregnancy and book an appointment at an abortion clinic all within 2 weeks of being late on your period which is absolutely ridiculous. As well as this, not all women will be able to find out whether they are even pregnant this early into the pregnancy.” In addition to this, the law does not make exceptions for rape or incest. As a result of this and the precedent case of Roe vs. Wade, which protects the right to have an abortion, the Senate Bill 8 was taken to the Supreme Court where the court made the controversial decision to stay out of the case–– neither supporting nor blocking the bill. After this decision by the court, the Biden administration and the Department of Justice sued the state of Texas based on the Roe vs. Wade case and called the bill unconstitutional; however, the Texas state government has continued to back the Heartbeat law. 

In contrast, people and groups who are in support of the bill argue that it protects both the mother and the unborn child in the womb. For instance, one of the largest non-profit pro-life organizations, Live Action, argues that this bill is a historic moment to save the lives of both mothers and children. 

Ultimately, it seems that this law has brought many viewpoints to light on the controversial topic of abortion. Moreover, the law itself is likely to impact women in Texas as well as women in other states where similar bills are in the process of being passed.

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