With the future of Roe v. Wade uncertain, all eyes are on the Supreme Court. It does not require a degree or expertise of any kind to recognize the divisive nature of politics today. Unfortunately, it’s seemingly come to the point where this division transcends the bounds of individual issues or fields and rather exists as an overarching umbrella of disdain for others rooted in difference in political identity or ideology. With many issues, it’s frustrating to see actions or anger that often feel contrived or performative (on both sides of the aisle). However, in the wake of the latest Texas abortion law, it has become impossible to avoid the hypocrisy within conservatives who support the aforementioned law and also are leading the war against the vaccine and mask regulations. As a political science student, I am angry. As a writer, I am empowered. As a woman, I am scared.
This article is not intended to incite rage or to alienate people for their beliefs. While I personally am vehemently pro-choice and support the mission to vaccinate those who are eligible, I argue this is not merely an issue of ideology, but a greater question of governmental authority and morality. Further, the pro-life perspective to the Texas abortion law pipeline is not a straight line; it is a monumental overstep endangering the lives of women without any regard for their say on the matter.
Beyond what is already the complicated pro-life, pro-choice debate associated with abortion, this Texas law is far more complex and concerning. The pro-life argument often cites the inability to terminate a fetus without it being deemed akin to committing murder. This law takes the pro-life argument leaps and bounds further; it’s “a nearly complete ban on abortion” in Texas and “effectively deputizes ordinary citizens” as is well explained and discussed in Rabin’s The New York Times article. Executive Director of the Texas Alliance for Life Joe Pojman argues against taking the life of an unborn child “unless it is necessary to protect the life of a women,” even in cases of rape or incest.
The law, Senate Bill 8, specifically disallows abortion after approximately six weeks of pregnancy, regardless the circumstances surrounding conception (i.e. incest or rape). Six weeks is simply put: not enough time. Many women would not even be able to know if they were pregnant at six weeks. Further, BUToday’s Joel Brown clarifies that there is no actual “heart at that time” so there is no heartbeat, just an electric pulse. Even further adding to this incomprehensible absurdity, the law is intended to be enforced by deputized citizens, rather than the State. Ordinary laymen can sue anyone they perceive to be seeking an abortion or helping to seek an abortion after six weeks for an award of $10k minimum per “illegal abortion.” Incentivizing something so serious in such a trivial way feels like an episode of the newly popular Netflix original “Squid Game.” Uber drivers can be at fault, Starbucks baristas can play police officer and at the end of it all, a woman faces an impossible situation and a doctor’s hands are tied. This is not what America is supposed to be. This is not just. To be pro-life and to be in favor of the Texas abortion ban are two separate stances and should be treated as such. In fact, these two stances are arguably antithetical. Pro-life is supposed to support the uninhibited life of the mother and fetus; the Texas abortion ban gives way to far too many circumstances where both lives are put at risk. For example, if a woman discovers her pregnancy is unhealthy after the six-week mark, she no longer has the option to terminate the pregnancy until the point is determined “putting the mother’s life at risk” enough under this new jurisdiction.
It is not just the minimal time frame that is cause for concern. It is the way in which this law clearly and definitively increases the systemic racism that has been spotlighted so much in the resurgence of Black Lives Matter and other civil rights movements. Economic disparity is greatly aligned with racial disparity; this essentially means people of color automatically have less access to the ability to and information associated with traveling across state lines if necessary. As demonstrated throughout the course of history, abortion bans as rigid and unforgiving as this will not effectively stop abortions from happening. Instead, these bans force women in dire circumstances to travel across state lines, or if that is not an option, to take matters into their own hands — risking their lives in many ways.
This infuriated reaction I have is truthfully driven by fear. I fear what will happen to so many women whose stories are unheard and whose reasons are ignored; I worry what this means for the future of our already turbulent country. Some of the same people stand proudly with signs ironically displaying the “My Body, My Choice” slogan as a reason to oppose COVID-19 vaccination and applaud as the near-total ability to choose is ripped away from millions of people. It is maddening in more ways than one. Touching on this a bit more, the aforementioned LATimes article displays this contradictory thought process well: “We are no more required to be vaccinated against COVID-19 than we are to get a driver’s license. If you don’t want to legally drive on public streets, don’t get a license.”
Focusing on the issue at hand, it is time for something to be done about this heartbreaking law putting millions of people at risk. First and foremost (acknowledging that this, as nothing ever does, does not speak for every woman who has opted for an abortion), choosing to have an abortion is not a celebrated, happy decision. A simple google search will yield thousands and thousands of narratives of women; some did so out of necessity whatever that may be in their specific circumstance, some did so for emotional reasons. It truly does not matter. It is neither a pleasant process, nor an easy decision to make, but it remains the jurisdiction of a pregnant woman and her doctor under the Fourteenth Amendment’s right to privacy what course of action is best. If you find yourself, like I do, disturbed and frightened by this law, there are many places to contribute. Beyond being a political science student, a writer and a woman, I am a human being and I ask that you consider what a law like this can do to our fellow human beings psychologically, physically and emotionally.
Jess D’Agostino is an Opinion Columnist and can be reached at email@example.com.