By Ariel Hall
A few weeks ago, when I saw that the most restrictive abortion law was passed in Texas, my heart stopped.
This law bans abortion as soon as “cardiac activity is detectable,” which is about six weeks, well before someone typically knows they are pregnant. It doesn’t make exceptions for rape or incest.
When asked about this section of the law, Gov. Greg Abbott said he would “eliminate rape.”
“Texas will work tirelessly to make sure that we eliminate all rapists from the streets of Texas by aggressively going out and arresting them and prosecuting them,” Abbott said.
Abbott does not seem to understand the realities of this law, as recent Department of Justice surveys says that most rapes are unreported.
Anti-abortion laws do not stop or reduce abortions, but they do make them dangerous.
Even if laws are restrictive, wealthy people will still have access to abortion, either from another state or another country. Low-income individuals don’t have this privilege and are more likely to have an unsafe abortion.
People will still get abortions, regardless of law, because of necessity. Almost every abortion- related death and disability can be prevented through “sexuality education, use of effective contraception, provision of safe, legal, induced abortion, and timely care for complications,” according to the World Health Organization.
Currently sex education curriculum isn’t required in Texas, and when it is taught in schools, it emphasizes abstinence and even allows guardians to remove their children using an opt out policy in many schools. If a school does teach sex ed, lessons on consent, gender identity and sexual orientation are not included in the curriculum.
Though multiple court challenges are underway, I am terrified for what this means for other states, especially like Alabama that has trigger laws. If you don’t know what a trigger law is, it would automatically ban all abortions, not including medical emergencies, if the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade.
According to the Guttmacher Institute, some of the common state level abortion restrictions are “parental notification or consent requirements for minors, limitations on public funding, mandated counseling designed to dissuade individuals from obtaining an abortion, mandated waiting periods before an abortion, and unnecessary and overly burdensome regulations on abortion facilities.”
What’s interesting to me is that these extreme abortion laws aren’t consistent with what most Americans want. Only 33% of Americans support these heartbeat laws, according to a 2019 poll from PBS, NPR and Marist.
If the lawmakers of Texas were truly pro-life, they wouldn’t support the death penalty. They’d support gun control. They would support comprehensive sex ed and access to contraception that would actually reduce abortion rates.
When I was young, I was always taught the golden rule, “do unto others as you would have done unto you.” There has always been this divide between pro-choice and pro-life, and my philosophy is that I believe in the quality of life, not just it’s value.