The Supreme Court’s inaction over the Texas abortion ban encourages other states to pursue similar legislation


Photo by Victoria Dziasek

The Texas Heartbeat Act does not reduce abortion rates and intrudes into the lives of women

Maria Alba-Herrera, Senior Opinions Writer

The new Texas “heartbeat” act, or Texas Senate Bill 8, pushed by Texas Republicans rob women of their bodily autonomy and reproductive rights. The bill prohibits women from having an abortion after they are six weeks pregnant – even if they were victims of rape or incest. It also persecutes those helping women get abortions by incentivizing common citizens to file lawsuits against “accomplices” with a reward of at least $10,000. The bill enacts the use of private cause of action to stealthily evade judicial review by not allowing pregnant women to be victims of these lawsuits. The law, signed and supported mostly by white conservative men, is nothing more than a disgusting attempt to further oppress women.

Forcing any woman to have a child is an inhumane invasion of privacy and violation of basic human rights. It is a woman’s fundamental choice to decide what she will do with her body and all that is produced by it., “It goes against everything Roe v. Wade was about and criminalizes abortion. Obviously a fetus’ life is important but in the early stages it is the woman’s right to get an abortion,” sophomore Angelina Xu said. Most women do not know that they are pregnant within the six week time limit of the bill, robbing any opporutnity of recieving an abortion. According to the Statesman, 85 to 90 percent of abortions are past the six week mark in Texas, meaning the law bans nearly all abortions in the state.

The bill forces victims to bear the children of their abusers, which can have disastrous consequences for both mother and child. According to psychologist Andrew Solomon, “children conceived of rape are more likely to suffer from severe psychological disorders.” Research shows that it is often difficult for the mother and child to form a positive healthy relationship, harming the mothers ability to lovingly care for her child and resulting in abuse and neglect. In passing this bill, legislators are forcing mothers to love the permanent reminder of their trauma and children to live a life of guilt for something they cannot control. 

Although this legislation is harmful for all women, marginalized women in Texas face the more dire consequences. It may be a minor inconvenience for upper-class women that can afford to take off work and hop on a flight out of state, but will be detrimental for lower income women that can not bear the additional expenses. Furthermore, most of the states surrounding Texas have 24-72 hour waiting periods between a consultation and an abortion and due to their extreme conservatism, it is nearly impossible to get an abortion in neighboring states.

 This bill was deviously crafted by the Texas legislature to encourage random people to shove their way into any woman’s private life through lawsuits against those that helped them. Not only does this deprive women of their constitutional right to privacy, but it leaves them vulnerable without a support system. “They’re mostly men so they don’t have the perspective of the women who might be in that situation,” junior Thomas Domorad said.

Legislators fail to understand that banning abortions will not prevent women from finding a way to access them. The Guttmacher Institue found that countries with the most abortion restrictions have the highest rates of illegal abortion. The abortion rate is 37 per 1,000 women in countries with strict abortion laws, and 34 per 1,000 in countries without them. The prosecution of medical professionals and clinics will inevitably cause women to seek unsafe abortions as a last resort, leading to a lifetime of health problems or even death.

The Texas legislature should not focus solely on banning abortions and oppressing women when there are other methods that help reduce abortion rates. Facilitating access to affordable birth control for all women and high quality sex education would better help to solve a large part of the problem. According to NBC, after Colorado got private funding to enact long-acting reversible contraceptives, birth and abortion raetes declined by 50 percent among teens and 20 percent among young women. 

In Texas, schools are not required to teach any form of sex education and many only emphasize abstinence until marriage – an outdated and ineffective strategy. Research shows that teen pregnancy is significantly less likely with comprehensive sex educations than with abstinence-only or no sex education

The creation of this act could have serious implications for the Supreme Court and the future of the country. The law was enacted on Sept. 1 and the Supreme Court ruled to not take action against it, setting the tone for the future with the new conservative majority. The Supreme Court’s indirect support for the act sets a dangerous precedent that encourages other states to pursue similar legislation, since they can sidestep legal opposition through the use of private cause of action. The court’s decision to bury their head in the sand and let this injustice take place could dangerously translate into other areas, such as gun safety. 

The Supreme Court’s decision to allow this act to stay in place sets an ominous tone for our future by allowing criminal law to intrude into women’s reproductive rights. It shows that this kind of conservative legislation is now more likely to be put in place and destroy the lives of many. The so-called “heartbeat act” is a flimsy portrayal of false concern for the lives of American citizens that take more importance to ruining the lives of those already living than saving the lives of the unborn.