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Texas Heartbeat Act: Whose Choice Is It?

by Emily Spillar

Abortions have been heavily debated for a while now. Many feel abortions should be completely illegal and women should not have the option to get one. After Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton, abortions became legal across the nation.

Concern over abortions becoming illegal again has been somewhat alleviated throughout the decades due to protective measures placed on women’s healthcare. However, with the recent enactment of the Texas abortion law, women are fearing for their rights once more.

The Texas abortion law, known formally as the Texas Heartbeat Act, was passed on Sept. 1. The Texas Heartbeat Act prohibits abortions as soon as cardiac activity is detectable, which is about six weeks along in pregnancy. Six weeks equates to only a two-week late menstrual period, barely enough time for a woman to realize they’re pregnant and then decide whether to get an abortion.

Many states have tried to implement a law like this before, but have been turned down by federal courts on numerous occasions. This is because of pro-choice groups and abortion centers arguing against this outlandish law. However, due to many anti-abortion groups coming together and showing their support for the law, it was able to be passed.

This law also states that someone who reports an abortion or abortion clinic can receive up to $10,000. Many abortion clinics have agreed to stop practicing due to this law, which means safe abortions are basically not an option anymore. However, that doesn’t mean people won’t try to do it on their own and potentially get sued for it if someone were to ever find out.

Dr. Alan Braid, of San Antonio, Texas, was the first to admit to performing an abortion after the law took effect. He was aware of the legal consequences that would take place when he decided to act, but he wanted to prove to the Texas Supreme Court that the law was outrageous. Braid is currently being faced with a lawsuit because he performed this abortion.

Women practicing abortions on themselves is very dangerous. According to the Guttmacher Institute, illegal abortions cause around 8% to 11% of all maternal deaths, which converts to about 30,000 deaths per year. Women who live in Texas who are seeking an abortion after the six-week mark have the option of either leaving the state to get one or to practice an illegal abortion.

However, there are many people in Texas who don’t have the ability to travel out of state to an abortion clinic that will provide the service for them. For these people, an unsafe or illegal abortion will most likely be the only option, which could be deadly.

After the passing of the Texas Heartbeat Act, many people are questioning what’s next and are worrying for their rights. If Texas was able to pass a law like this, what does it mean for other states? As of right now, Florida is also looking at an abortion law that would mirror the one passed in Texas. There are many government officials currently opposing this law, but right now, women’s rights are being rescinded at an alarming rate.

It’s very important for women to have access to safe abortions. In cases of rape or incest, a woman should not have to be forced to have a child they never wanted.

A woman’s financial situation also might come into play when deciding to get an abortion or not. If they aren’t able to fund nine months of countless doctors visits plus a lifetime of supporting a baby, then they should be able to choose not to have that child.

No one is asking for everyone to support abortions. Many women say they would never get an abortion, but that doesn’t mean the option should not exist for others. Every woman deserves this choice, and because of this law, many women are being denied that choice.

You can help fight these oppressive laws by giving to Planned Parenthood‘s Action Fund. For more information on abortion rights, you may also visit the website for the National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL). Both foundations are seeking donations as well as volunteers.

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