Wednesday marked the start of a new, dark era for women’s rights in The Lone Star State.
Women in Texas effectively lost their right to seek an abortion, guaranteed to them by Roe v. Wade, with a new law that took effect on Wednesday. That law — which has left millions outraged — limits abortion to a six-week window after conception and empowers any private citizen to seek $10,000 in damages from medical providers or anyone who helps perform this procedure.
Besides the obvious consequence of inviting bystanders to profit off of women’s personal choices, this law will have devastating consequences for people who give birth everywhere.
The first and most egregious violation of basic human dignity under this law is the requirement that an abortion be completed before a heartbeat is detected, or at about six weeks after conception. This is an unreasonable amount of time for any woman to know they are pregnant, let alone get an abortion. Texas had more than 55,000 abortions performed in 2020; more than 46,000 of those occurred at or before eight weeks of pregnancy.
People across the country were swift to lambast the new law for encouraging harassment and vigilantism, not to mention its blatant violation of human rights.
This law effectively turns citizens into bounty hunters, as it depends on individuals — many of whom may not be related to the person obtaining an abortion — to enforce it.
This is where things can get scary.
What happens when everyday people go broke because of these cruel legal charades? What happens when legitimate doctors, who have debt to pay, owe $10,000 in damages to their neighbors who sued them?
Crucially: How can we ensure that this law will not enable the courts to become a political weapon and a tool for oppression in Texas and beyond?
With a 6-3 conservative majority on the Supreme Court, we are teetering on the brink of disaster.
Equally problematic is that the law does not make exceptions for rape and incest. That is cruel and barbaric and is remarkably dangerous.
And even when women are able to schedule an abortion, they still have to answer invasive questions about their own bodies. These range from the odd to outright nonsensical: “[What is] the probable post-fertilization age of the unborn child based on the best medical judgment of the attending physician,” women and providers will be asked.
One question asks for the exact date of the patient’s last menstrual cycle; another asks how many abortions they have had in the past.
The obvious intention of this bill is not only to intimidate and humiliate women, but to cast shame upon them for wishing to obtain an abortion. A woman’s fundamental rights to have autonomy over their own body should not be something to play mind games over.
It should be a respected priority.
Jack Porcari is a senior news/features editor and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Jack Porcari is a senior news/features editor at The Spectrum. He is a political science major with a minor in journalism. Aside from writing and editing, he enjoys playing piano, flow arts, reptiles and activism.