New Abortion Bans Threaten Reproductive Rights

Recent abortion restrictions limit personal choice, bodily autonomy, freedom

February 3, 2022


Bernadette Whitely

In light of the abortion ban in Texas, many have been troubled with the lack of consistency from the Texas government. Activists have found it confusing that Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced an executive order in Aug. 2021 banning government COVID-19 vaccination mandates in the state. However, after signing the new abortion law, Abbott tweeted that every “unborn child with a heartbeat will be saved from the ravages of abortion.”This political cartoon aims to call attention to the hypocrisy, and even irony, within Texas laws.

The past couple of months the topic of abortions has been popping up in the news more regularly. In Sept. 2021, The Texas Heartbeat Bill was passed. This law bans abortions after six weeks with no exception to rape or incest. At six weeks cardiac activity is detectable in the fetus but many women do not know they are pregnant at six weeks. This controversy brings up questions of if this law is ethical or fair to people. Do women have any control over their personal health with this law? 

Mackenzie Mcilmail, Social Studies teacher, said, “[The] Texas case essentially deputizes everyday citizens to be able to sue anyone who helps provide an abortion. So that could be the abortion doctor or it could be the guy who drives you [the patient] in an Uber to an abortion clinic.” The Texas law is causing women to have less rights and individual citizens in Texas to have more over a pregnant woman’s body. This interaction is strictly just between citizens of Texas. The government doesn’t have any power in this, they can’t control who brings lawsuits forward.

This is not the only abortion law that has brought up controversy. Mississippi is challenging Roe v. Wade which protects a woman’s right to get an abortion without excessive government restriction. If the Mississippi law is found to be constitutional then this would overturn Roe v. Wade. Mcilmail said, “The interesting thing is in Mississippi, they’ve moved back the point of viability. The Supreme Court set this standard after Roe v. Wade that abortions can be allowed up to the point of viability which they determined is 24 weeks.”

If Roe v. Wade is overturned, this could cause 12 states to ban abortions after the first trimester of a pregnancy. These 12 states are called trigger states which have trigger laws, meaning that they have an unenforceable law that could be enforced if a key change in circumstances occurs. In this case, the key change would be overturning Roe v. Wade. The Mississippi case is still being argued in the Supreme Court right now. Mcilmail says there are two possible ways the court could rule this case: “The court could either say that’s the new term of viability, 15 weeks and that’s going to allow abortion bans across the country at 15 weeks. Or, they could just overturn Roe v. Wade altogether.’’ However, we probably won’t hear the results of this case until the end of June 2022. 

When thinking about these abortion bans it’s important to think about women who are pregnant and have to carry this child for over nine months. Mcilmail said, “When we think about taking abortion rights for women it doesn’t just become you [the patient] can’t get an abortion, it’s forcing women to give birth and in a lot of these situations, there are certain jobs you can’t do if you are pregnant, you might have to take maternity leave which means you are not getting paid because we don’t have paid maternity leave in this country.” When considering this issue, it is important to think about all the factors which include the process women have to go through when pregnant. They aren’t just supporting themselves but also another life. These abortion bans give women limited freedom to chose if being pregnant and having a child is the right thing for them. 

The silver lining to this issue if there is one, would be that more people are talking about it, especially young women. Mcilmail states, “I think a lot of younger women are more tuned into this issue. Technically [they’re] the ones that will be most impacted.” Mcilmail continued, “It galvanizes women to get out and vote, the vast majority of Americans support abortion rights and when you start polling women the numbers are even higher.” This issue could encourage more women to vote and stand up for women’s rights. This is not an issue that should be ignored. 

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