The Texas Heartbeat Act went into effect last week on Wednesday, Sept. 1. This act allows any person to sue someone who provides an aboriton once any sign of cardiac activity (a heartbeat) can be detected via transvaginal ultrasound. This is typically around the six week mark of a pregnancy, which is more often than not before someone even knows they are pregnant.
The patient cannot be sued, but any other person who provides support in this process can be. This not only includes doctors and lawyers, but even people who simply provide transportation to the abortion clinic. The plaintiff can be awarded up to $10,000 plus court costs if the defendant is proven liable. This law does not have any exceptions for abortions after rape or incest.
This act is a first of its kind. A handful of states have tried to make stricter restrictions like this in the past, but the majority have used government actions, such as criminal charges, instead of purely citizen based enforcement.
This new act clearly violates the 1973 Roe v. Wade court ruling. With this ruling, the U.S. Supreme court ruled that under the constitution, a pregnant woman has the liberty to choose to have an abortion without excessive government restriction. The Texas Heartbeat Act is an excessive government restriction. Most women don’t even know they are pregnant at six weeks, let alone that they want or need an abortion.
Women seeking abortions have the option to go to neighboring states that don’t have as strict of restrictions, such as New Mexico, but some may not have the ability to make these far away trips. Going from a drive that might be only a couple of miles, to having to travel hundreds of miles is strenuous on patients and not a viable option.
These strict restrictions will not make people stop having abortions. It will only cause people to have to go to extreme and potentially dangerous lengths to receive them. According to a fact sheet released by the World Health Organization (WHO), a safe abortion is defined as one where “they are carried out by a person with the necessary skills, using a WHO recommended method appropriate to the pregnancy duration.” They say that between 4.7%-13.2% of maternal deaths each year can be attributed to these unsafe abortions.
Currently, unsafe abortions are commonly seen in countries with strict restrictions or outright bans on abortion. These new restrictions in Texas could increase the number of unsafe abortions performed in the state, thus increasing maternal deaths from these complications. If the state would provide the proper resources to these women, we wouldn’t have to worry about them even considering an unsafe abortion.
This act has caused a lot of outrage in people across the country and a resurgence in the “My Body, My Choice” movement. Myself, and all women in this country deserve to keep our constitutional right to have an abortion. Even if you don’t personally agree with having an aboriton for yourself, don’t take that option away from us.