A ban on personal choice

The new Texas abortion legislation is concerning for women.


Sarina Grossi, Editor-in-Chief

The Heartbeat Act, a new law banning abortions after six weeks of pregnancy, was passed by Texas legislators Sept. 1, effectively changing the lives of countless women living in the state. For me, the law sounds like something coming straight out of Margaret Atwood’s “A Handmaid’s Tale,” as it signifies a need to control women.

The act states that abortions cannot be performed once a heartbeat is detected, usually around six weeks of pregnancy before a woman even knows she is pregnant. The law does not permit abortions for rape or incest victims, minors or even medically vulnerable patients.  

Laws like this aren’t new, as Georgia, Ohio, Louisiana, Missouri, Alabama, Kentucky and South Carolina have passed similar laws in the past. What’s different about Texas, however, is that the law is upheld by private citizens that can be rewarded $10,000 for successful lawsuits against those who performed the now illegal abortions. It is evident the goal of this law is to ultimately challenge Roe v. Wade in the Supreme Court.

Texas Right to Life, an anti-abortion organization that set up whistleblower websites to track doctors who might have broken the Heartbeat Act, claims that the law will not harm any women who might have received an abortion. I find this to be misleading, as it does actively punish women with unwanted pregnancies by making abortions practicably inaccessible. 

What I don’t understand is why legislators who pass laws like these (including men who have never been pregnant or have given birth) use the label “pro-life.” These decisions have nothing to do with preserving life or improving the lives of others. 

Banning safe and legal abortions does not stop the practice from happening. Abortion has been around since ancient times, but these current protocols are the safest the procedure has ever been. Desperate women are bound to find any place they can get the procedure done, resulting in possible death. According to the World Health Organization, 4.7% to 13.2% of “maternal deaths” are caused by unsafe abortions. Is it “pro-life” to let a woman die resulting from a botched medical procedure?

Sometimes, women get abortions for the sake of their lives or the child’s life. With modern technology, doctors often are able to tell when a fetus might not make it to full term, as over 24,000 children arrive stillborn every year according to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention. Women in these cases choose to abort the fetus to avoid the heartache of delivering a stillborn child or to make the child suffer further. Doctors are also able to tell when a woman might have birth complications during delivery, with almost 700 women dying each year from pregnancies. Is it “pro-life” to force a parent to give birth to an already dead child or to force them to die in order to give birth?

Anti-abortionists claim they want the fetus to get the chance to live, but when its mother is a 13-year-old girl who was raped by a family member, the child will likely not live in a healthy environment. The mother is herself a child and is unable to provide the proper care needed to support a baby, especially one resulting from a traumatic event, and she may still have to fight for custody if her abuser does not face jail time. Is it “pro-life” to place a child in an unstable environment without love and support, possibly affecting the entire course of their life?

Sure, women can choose to put children up for adoption, but both adoption services and foster care have messy outcomes. According to Kids Data, children in foster care are more likely to develop emotional or behavioral problems and those that grow out of the foster care system often “experience inadequate housing, low educational and career attainment, early parenthood, substance abuse, physical and mental health problems, and involvement with the criminal justice system.” Not to mention an estimated 87% of children that enter foster care for the first time are removed from households due to neglect. Is it “pro-life” to let children be neglected and to experience the most difficult hardships imaginable?

This Texas abortion legislation is not “pro-life.” It might be pro-birth, but it does nothing to ensure the quality of life for the fetus or the woman. Instead, it punishes women for being in a vulnerable place, for not wanting to have children, or not wanting to place children in a horrible situation. It takes away a woman’s autonomy over her own life, no matter how complex her circumstance is or how much control she has over it.  

Not all women get abortions just because they aren’t ready to be a mother and it is unreasonable to make this assumption. We also cannot state that all women who get abortions are irresponsible, as oftentimes certain legislation does not allow men or women to take certain protocols towards birth control (hysterectomies are extremely difficult to obtain along with Plan B pills) and financially, children are expensive for those struggling close to the poverty line. Women should not be punished for situations they do not always have control over.

I’m not claiming abortion is the answer to all of these problems, as the issue is complex and abortion is only a result of more deep-rooted issues facing the female gender. As a woman, I can never see myself actively seeking out an abortion, but I still believe women as a whole should be able to decide when or if they want to conceive and how. Our country needs to stop pretending that women exercising their right to their own bodies is malicious or evil, as in most cases abortion is the undesirable outcome of undesirable circumstances, not the best solution to a minor inconvenience.

If legislators want to really benefit the lives of these women and children, fix the Foster Care or Welfare system for those who are unable to financially care for children. Put funding to teaching proper sex education and provide proper contraception for both men and women. But don’t legislate women’s bodies and claim to be “pro-life,” as these actions reflect a true anti-woman mentality.