Outrage in Texas pursues due to anti-abortion law

The ongoing fight for reproductive rights in Texas.

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Jada Cowley

One of the many pro-life signs located across from the Planned Parenthood in Bremerton, WA.

by Jada Cowley, Reporter

Senate Bill 8, also known as the Texas Heartbeat Act, was signed into law on May 19, 2021, and came into effect months later on September 1. Just as the name suggests, Texas’ new law prevents any pregnant person from receiving an abortion if the fetus’ heartbeat is detectable – typically occurring at around six weeks of pregnancy. For people with regular menstrual cycles this is about two weeks after a missed period, meaning most haven’t even realized that they’re pregnant by this time. 

Since it’s been signed in, SB 8 has been regarded as one of the strictest bans on abortion in the country. SB 8 does not allow for exceptions due to pregnancies caused by rape or incest, though a doctor may proceed with providing an abortion post-six weeks if they feel that the pregnancy poses a medical threat to the person’s health. 

“I’m in the middle,” Genya Brooks, a student at Central Kitsap High School, explained how she feels about the restriction. “Abortion, I don’t like it necessarily, but if you didn’t have a choice- like if you got forced into it then it’s not technically your fault” Brooks said. 

Unlike previous laws, Texas’ happens to be very unique; it is the first of it’s kind that allows for civil enforcement rather than criminal punishment via the government. Private citizens have been granted the right to sue Texas abortion providers in violation of the law, as well as any person aiding or abetting a pregnant person in illegally obtaining one.

A person receiving an abortion in Texas cannot be sued under SB 8. The resulting lawsuits entitle the plaintiff to a minimum of $10,000 in statutory damages so long as they prevail in court. Due to the severity of the law, there has been an abundance in backlash from people globally. 

“You can ban something, you can make it illegal, but time and time again laws have been broken and honestly that is a law that is setting itself up to be broken,” said Megan Carter, a student at CKHS. “I think it’s dumb because with that law they cannot seek professional medical aid, which means they are going to have to go to a separate state, they’re going to have to get illegal help which puts them and the doctor in legal trouble, or they’re going to have to do it themselves and that is perhaps the scariest option.” 

America’s leading physician groups such as the American College of Physicians, the American Psychiatric Association, the American Osteopathic Association, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the American Academy of Family Pediatrics, representing nearly 600,000 physicians and medical students, released a joint statement in opposition to the law. 

“Patients must be able to depend on their physicians to help them make critical decisions about their personal health, including reproductive health. To that end, we fundamentally oppose the unprecedented ability for private citizens to take legal action against individuals who help a woman obtain an abortion, including physicians providing necessary, evidence-based care for their patients. Physicians must be able to practice medicine that is informed by their years of medical education, training, experience, and the available evidence, freely and without threat of punishment, harassment, or retribution.”

The statement was released on September 2, 2021, a day after the legalization of SB 8. As of September 16 the statement has been additionally endorsed by 38 medical organizations. Planned Parenthood, a well-known advocate as well as provider for abortion care, released it’s own statement

“Abortion rights for people in Texas will not be fully restored until S.B. 8 is completely struck down, and we are doing everything we can to make sure that happens. We will continue fighting this ban in court until we are certain patients’ ability to access care is protected.” 

Most notably, President Joe Biden himself has critiqued the law, labeling it extreme and blatantly unconstitutional. Biden released a statement on September 1, 2021, promising to defend and protect the constitutional rights that were established in Roe v. Wade

“I’m for abortion because really the idea that you can just restrict someone from having or not having a kid is really wrong and it really infringes on their rights and the rights they have to their body,” says Anaya Crawford, a student attending CKHS. 

While this is the first time we’ve seen abortion restricted to this degree, many are beginning to wonder whether other states could meet the same fate as Texas. Though Texas is the first to succeed in passing a six-week ban, many others have introduced bills extremely similar in the past. In 2019 Mississippi’s Gov. Phil Bryant signed a bill banning abortions past a 6 week period, or once a fetal heartbeat is detectable. 

This law was quickly shot down by a federal judge as it was deemed an infringement on women’s health care rights. Governors of Kentucky, Ohio, Alabama and Georgia have also signed bills with similar fetal heartbeat rules in the past. 

Washington State’s Gov. Jay Inslee has since released a statement regarding the denial by the Supreme Court for an emergency request filed by the Center for Reproductive Rights to block SB 8. “Today’s lack of leadership from the U.S. Supreme Court will have chilling effects on reproductive rights in this country far beyond Texas. Now that the Supreme Court has allowed Texas’ extreme anti-abortion law to stand, it won’t be long until many Republican-controlled legislatures in other states use it as a template to deepen disparities in abortion access between states.

We are fortunate that this has no impact on people seeking an abortion in Washington. We deeply value maintaining strong access to reproductive health and abortion services. We have strengthened our laws around preserving access to reproductive services in recent years, and we will continue to protect people’s rights.”

It’s safe to say that the citizens of Washington state will not have to worry about a restriction on abortion anytime soon. The fight for women’s rights in health care is an ongoing one. Citizens of the United States have banded together to fight for reproductive rights for decades, whether this be through protest or other means, and through this there have been losses and victories. “Sometimes we need to lose the small battles in order to win the war.” – Sun Tzu