Published on: 19 Oct 2021
September 1, 2021 marked a huge loss in the fight for women’s rights. On this day, SB 8 or the Texas Heartbeat Act went into effect, banning abortion after six weeks. This draconian law not only makes the procedure essentially illegal in the state, but facilitates an unprecedented public policing of women by encouraging civil lawsuits of anyone facilitating abortions. With its conservative majority, the Supreme Court court refused to block the law just a day before, allowing this blatantly unconstitutional law to stand uncontested.
As an American and proud participant of our democracy, I cannot stay silent about what they are doing in Texas. To paraphrase the Declaration of Independence, I truly believe all people—not just men—are created equal. Preserving women’s rights across all 50 of the United States should concern us all. First, while there might be a population of certain Americans who are against abortion, ideology cannot be allowed to overrule the law of the land—and abortion has been guaranteed under federal law since Roe v. Wade in 1973. More importantly, it is patently undemocratic to impose one’s views on another person, particularly when that violates their individual sovereignty over their bodies.
Ironically, the Texans who are so vocal about championing other constitutional rights like free speech and bearing firearms see no problem taking vital personal freedoms away from half of their residents. They ought to realize that the Gadsden flag’s patriotic slogan “Don’t Tread On Me” is virtually synonymous with the feminist mantra, “My body, my choice.” One need not have a womb to realize what a massive violation of personal freedom this law presents.
As a man, I cannot speak for women, but I do strive to listen to the many women in my life, and they have told me that Texas’ law is wrong and tragic, and they feel attacked and abused. And I feel I must add my voice to theirs.
There is a lot at stake if SB 8 is allowed to stand, both for women and for our country as a whole. When Governor Abbott signed the Heartbeat Bill into law on May 19, 2021, he turned back Texas’ clock to 1972. We need only look back to pre-Roe America to get a sense of what we’re looking towards. Historically, making abortion illegal does not end the practice, it just drives women denied the right to resort to desperate, dangerous measures to terminate unwanted pregnancies. This means women will take matters into their own hands, getting illegal medical procedures and seeking medications like RU486 on the black market without the safety and protection of a doctor’s oversight. In brief: women will die.
Additionally, SB 8 introduces a civil component to the criminalization of abortion that is patently un-American, asking citizens—including those who do not reside in Texas—to spy on their neighbors. It’s like we’re living in a parallel universe, where The Handmaid’s Tale meets McCarthyism. Why would society choose to turn back the clock 50 years in human rights? In my opinion, this all boils down to control and power. Texas lawmakers are going against history, against progress, against one, against all.
While there have been efforts within the justice department to stop the implementation of the bill, such gestures are merely a bandaid on this profound wound. This is a fundamental wrong that must be addressed on a national scale. Rights to oneself and personal sovereignty are an essential part to a functional democracy: if we sit by complacently and allow this to happen, who will help when they come for us next?
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