Ten days ago, a majority of five right-wing members of the United States Supreme Court allowed Texas Senate Bill 8 to come into force, in what seemed like another death knell for democracy and the civil rights of women and uterine people.
Introduced by Republicans as the “Texas Heartbeat Act,” Senate Bill 8 bans all abortions before six weeks pregnant and places anti-abortion activists – or anyone interested in earning ten thousand dollars – in charge of the application, establishing a system that allows anyone to sue anyone. who performs or facilitates an abortion for a minimum of $ 10,000 in legal damages.
As medical professionals have explained, the nickname SB 8 (“Texas Heartbeat Act”) is a misnomer. At six weeks, a fetus is not fully formed, so while there may be some levels of heart activity, there is no heartbeat.
The name, like the law itself, is meant to intimidate people and put an exclamation mark on the program of forced pregnancies and forced births that right-wing Republicans across the country have been pushing for more than fifty years.
According to American Pregnancy Association, the majority of women will find out that they are pregnant between the fourth and seventh week of their pregnancy. With Lone Star State health clinics unable to offer abortion, women in Texas who find out they are pregnant after six weeks will be struggling. Many will undoubtedly be asked to leave the state for treatment.
In fact, clinics in neighboring states like Oklahoma and New Mexico are already preparing to face an onslaught of Texas-based patients in the future.
Besides the fact that this has the potential to overwhelm resources already scattered in surrounding states, it is not a practical way to access reproductive care. Interstate travel is simply not feasible for many women, especially women of color and economically disadvantaged women.
Not all women in Texas have access to the transportation or funds to travel hundreds or even thousands of miles for a medical procedure they should have access to in their home state. Women’s rights activists and reproductive health care providers have previously explained how Senate Bill 8 will disproportionately impact low-income women of color, especially black women.
Additionally, data from Texas Health and Human Services shows that Black women accounted for 29% of all abortions in Texas in 2020.
Studies have indicated that higher rates of unintended pregnancies occur in people of color due to deep-rooted structural issues that limit access to contraceptives and other forms of preventive care.
There are growing concerns that this new bill will force vulnerable young girls in Texas to leave childhood and become mothers before they are truly ready. To this, proponents of restrictive abortion legislation proudly present adoption as an option. However, as a co-adoptee, I know it is not that simple.
For some, carrying a pregnancy to term and then abandoning the baby for adoption is a far more traumatic decision than choosing to abort earlier in the pregnancy. For others, abortion is a medically safer option than adoption.
CDC data shows that before the verdict of Roe vs. Wade in 1973 (which legalized abortion nationwide), only 9% of never-married women chose adoption as an option for an unwanted pregnancy. After the 1980s, this figure fell to around 2% and was last reported below 1% in 2002.
Sociologists find that women do not necessarily choose between abortion and adoption but abortion and parenthood, which in some cases means choosing between your goals and ambitions and raising a child you never wanted to have.
As an adoptee, I know very clearly what it means to have grown up in a home where I had a parent who was fully committed to parenting and who had the resources to support a child. The harmful effects of being born and raised in a home where one feels like a burden are obvious to most.
Restrictive abortion bans like this not only deprive a person, parent or generation of their reproductive rights, but also affect generations to come.
Children born to mothers deprived of abortions are more likely to live in households without adequate access to basic health care. Likewise, mothers of said children are less likely to form strong maternal bonds with their children and are more likely to feel resentful, and issues like these are often cyclical.
And we all know – or should know – that those same Republicans (mostly men) who force women and people with wombs to carry their pregnancies to term are never around when it’s time to feed, clothe and to provide for the needs of the children who were brought in. in the world as a result of these pregnancies.
Remember, all Republicans in Congress voted against the Child Care Tax Credit.
SB 8 is not a heartbeat bill. It is a heartless bill. It is a rash bill. It is a bill that denies reproductive rights and steals freedom. And it must be overthrown.