Abortion Laws: What They Mean for Us Women
© Illustration by Caitlin Bunnie
Banning abortions doesn’t end abortions - it just prevents safe ones from happening.
As of September 1st, 2021, Texas’ new abortion law has begun being enforced and is arguably one of the most restrictive abortion legislations nationwide. For women it is now practically impossible to get an abortion in Texas and as a law is one of the most preventative and vigorous pieces of the legislature to exist in the states. Not only does the law ban women from getting an abortion after 6 weeks but makes any individual involved in the abortion process legally complicit and at risk of being sued. Furthermore, anyone who successfully sues an abortion provider under this law can be provided up to $10,000. Texas has also set up a ‘whistle-blower’ website that allows anonymous tips about anyone violating the law. Due to the way the legislation is written, challenging this legislation in court would be difficult and even despite the 1973 Supreme Court ruling that established a constitutional right to the procedure. Ultimately, the recent Texas Abortion Law is an attempt to undermine the 1973 ruling and undermine women.
The 1973 Supreme Court ruling (Roe V Wade) was a monumental moment for women’s rights and protected pregnant women’s liberty to have an abortion without excessive governmental restriction. The 1970s saw the second wave of feminism thrive with the overlying notion of female liberation. The Texas Abortion Law appears as an attempt to subvert its impact and find ways to get around the legislature. This is a huge step backwards for women’s rights movements and proves that no matter how progressed we think we have become as a society, women are not liberated. Liberation is women having the right to choose whether they want an abortion, not being ostracised by society, and being forced to keep a child they do not want and may not be able to care for. The law also does not cover abortion after 6 weeks, even if the foetus is a product of incest or rape. There are no expectations and as a result, abortion is now basically outlawed in the state.
The impact of this law is that women will have to either travel hours out of state to acquire an abortion or continue with unwanted pregnancies. This is the opposite of liberation, and it is shocking that in modern-day where we are regularly educated on topics surrounding sexism that these legislations are still considered- let alone passing through courts. Most women would also be unaware that they are pregnant at 6 weeks, further anchoring the fact that Texas has outlawed abortion.
In terms of legislature, what is the most troubling about the Texas Abortion Law is how isolating it is and how it in ways, it shames women for not wanting children by simply not allowing it. Accidental pregnancies happen all the time and the idea that women can’t choose whether they want the lifelong commitment of a child is extremely oppressive and is one step backwards in the fight towards equality.
The Texas Abortion Law is a tumultous attempt to strip Texas women of their supposedly protected right to have a safe and legal abortion. If you need help or know someone who does, you can find here links to some counselling centres and websites that support women who want to have an abortion.