Texas Tightens Regulations on Abortion

On Sept. 1, the Supreme Court of the United States had an emergency hearing regarding new restrictions on abortion in Texas. The Senate session concluded with a 5-4 vote to deny the appeal made by the Texan doctors. The next day at 12 a.m., new legislature went into place regarding abortion law: Senate Bill 4 (SB 4) and Senate Bill 8 (SB 8), banning abortions in a fetus of over 6 weeks of gestational age. Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas came out with a statement saying the new law “is in effect and limits [their] ability to provide abortions at [their] health centers.”

While this law does provide 6 weeks for a person seeking an abortion to receive one legally, Texas legislators are receiving backlash because “many people don’t even know they’re pregnant until after six weeks,” tweeted by Planned Parenthood Action as a response to Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s commentary on the new law. The provisions added to this legislature make it one of the strictest laws regarding abortion in the country. In Missouri, a state which also contains one of the most austere abortion laws in America, the procedure is allowed for up to 8 weeks of gestational age; whereas in Texas individuals are now permitted to sue anyone found aiding another individual in receiving an abortion after 6 weeks of gestational age. Allowing and calling for citizen involvement in regulating the abortion ban is something unseen in any other state’s legislature right now. 

U.S. Attorney General Merrick B. Garland came out with a statement saying that he and the Department of Justice (DOJ) would fight the Supreme Court on this law and defend those in Texas who wish to see its repeal. Garland went under some fire for failing to take sooner action, however as of Thursday, Sept. 9, CNBC reported that the DOJ had filed their lawsuit against the Texas Senate. 

This new law has split the political spectrum, both sides disagreeing on the meaning of the law. Republican politicians believe the law will be beneficial towards the future of humanity, while most Democrats see it as a strict violation of women’s reproductive rights. Pro-life advocates believe that stricter abortion laws will prevent women from seeking out these procedures. Those who are pro-choice think differently, believing that abortion laws not only infringe on women’s reproductive rights, but also believe that stricter laws will cause more women to seek out dangerous and medically unsafe procedures if their access is cut off from safe ones. The World Health Organization estimated that worldwide, 25 million unsafe abortions occur every year. Unsafe abortions can be extrememly harmful towards the women who carry them out, and can cause serious and sometimes fatal damage. But as Dr. Karen Swallow Prior, research professor at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, puts it: The new law will “compel us to help women with unwanted pregnancies in meaningful ways”, meaning it will make less women want to carry out abortions in the first place. Whether or not the law will actually provide that for women in Texas remains to be seen.