Texas women just lost jurisdiction over their bodies with abortion ban

Think of Texas and one of the first things that comes to mind is its unique shape – those iconic curves that we stamp, mark and model on anything we can think of, from tortilla chips and cutting boards to the extravagant hotel pools.

You can add one more to the list you’ll never find among the kitsch at Buc-ee’s: a Texas-shaped hanger.

The connotation of the image widely shared on social media is frightening, and its symbolism is not lost on anyone who lived, or at least read, a time when women did not have access to a safe and legal abortion. , etc. were forced to search for alternatives via pill bottles, alleyways, Mexican border towns and yes, crudely improvised DIY devices.

It’s a world that many women in Texas are fortunate enough to never have experienced until now.

The Texas legislature effectively banned abortion in Texas, which takes us back to 1973 before the landmark Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade does not legalize the procedure nationwide. The law affects abortions after 6 weeks, when an embryo is about the size of a lens. A heartbeat can be detected although many women do not yet know they are pregnant. There are no exceptions in the law for victims of rape or incest.

Supporters of the law are celebrating their success, claiming they have rid Texas of the “ravages of abortion,” as Governor Greg Abbott put it in a tweet. Other activists use the word “violent” to describe a medical procedure that 88% of the time is done in the first trimester, and about 40% of the time is not really a procedure but a set of pills. Women often describe an early abortion as a busy period.

“Texas will always stand up for the right to life,” Gov. Greg Abbott trumpeted on Twitter after the law came into force this week.

Always? Tell that to the women who still die in childbirth in Texas. Tell the children that we let die and are abused in foster care. Tell the 1.4 million Texans who don’t have health insurance because lawmakers refuse to expand Medicaid.

Texas consistently ranks among the bottom when it comes to child welfare. Lawmakers have just passed a law allowing people to carry handguns without any training or permits. As the deadly and highly contagious delta variant increases in our state, the governor refuses to protect Texans with a simple mask requirement and is actively blocking local governments that attempt to do so, including public school officials who are responsible for the safety of millions of children.

Texas rulers won’t force anyone to wear a harmless mask, but will they force a woman to carry the offspring of a man who rapes her? Such cases are rare, but even a single one is an unreasonably cruel warrant.

How come Texas offers more protection for an unborn embryo than an 8-year-old who is at risk of COVID infection every day he is forced to go to school with non-classmates masked?

This is the most cynical calculation for Abbott and Republican lawmakers: They are willing to risk the life of a child in the name of individual freedom, but they have no problem trampling on a woman’s individual freedom. protect an embryo no bigger than a grain of rice.

It has been a long day to come – and a long time to fight.

For years, anti-abortion activists in the Texas legislature have tried to erode women’s access to the procedure with every clever strategy they could think of: forcing women to undergo vaginal ultrasounds, demanding l burial of fetal remains, cluttering clinics with stringent regulations across the width of clinic corridors. State Senator Wendy Davis rejected a bill banning abortion after 20 weeks, but attacks on women’s rights continued as Republicans took firm control of the Texas House and Senate.

This time, they went above and beyond and unraveled the shreds of abortion wards that the women of Texas had left behind. The six-week abortion ban is accompanied by such a Machiavellian method of execution that it would make Vladimir Putin proud.

The law essentially allows ordinary citizens to spy on and denounce their fellow citizens if they have reason to believe the person is guilty of “aiding and abetting” an abortion in Texas. This means everyone from the doctor who performs the abortion to the person who brought the patient to the clinic. The law allows gossipers – some call them bounty hunters – to prosecute alleged violators and earn up to $ 10,000 in damages. Even if they are wrong in their claims, they are legally protected from the claims of defamation.

Despite the dubious legal grounds for these lawsuits – typically a person bringing a lawsuit in Texas must have been directly wronged – the mere existence of the law is enough to intimidate many abortion providers and supporters for they are closing their operations this week.

Unlike other blatantly unconstitutional anti-abortion provisions passed by Texas lawmakers, lawyers don’t know who to prosecute to fight the law because it is technically not enforced by Texas authorities.

The fact that the United States Supreme Court allowed the law to come into force – minus the votes of Chief Justice John Roberts and the Liberals who were dissenting – is a disturbing harbinger of what will happen when the court will address the deeper question of the constitutionality of the law.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi pledges to prioritize some type of federal remedy, but the chances of it being passed by both chambers are unclear.

The only thing clear today is that in the state of Texas, land of personal freedom, women have lost jurisdiction over our bodies. Those in need of abortions, many of whom are mothers caring for other children, will have to leave the state to undergo the procedure. The hardest hit will be low-income women who do not have the money to travel, and some, with no other option, may resort to dangerous methods to terminate pregnancies.

This is the world we read in books, never imagining that it would reappear as our reality. Barring a federal recourse, the only option for Texans who support a woman’s right to choose is to fight for an alternate reality. Get angry, get organized, go to the polls.

Thelma J. Longworth

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