The Injustice of Texas Abortion Laws

Thousands of women facing the unimaginable under new abortion law in Texas


Chris Hartman, CC BY 2.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

An abortion clinic in Texas that is being forced to turn away many of their former patients

On May 19, 2021, the new Texas abortion law was signed. It went into effect on September 1, 2021. The law, also known as the “Heartbeat Bill,” prohibits abortions after 6 weeks (about 1 and a half months), when the heartbeat of a fetus can first be detected. It makes no exceptions for cases of rape or incest. Interestingly, it is different from other strict abortion laws in that it allows people in no way connected to the abortion, anywhere in the country, to sue any person connected to it in any way for up to $10,000. This means even an Uber driver who drives a desperate woman to a clinic can be sued. The Heartbeat Bill is a devastating blow to tens of thousands of women living in Texas and being affected by this law. In the span of pregnancy, 6 weeks is an extremely brief period of time. Most women, on average, find out they are pregnant between 4 and 7 weeks. This means if a woman discovers she is pregnant on the low end of the average, she only has 2 weeks to weigh her options and decide. On the high end, she has no options at all. If a woman is raped, even by a relative, and doesn’t discover her pregnancy within 6 weeks (one missed period) she will be forced to carry the pregnancy through the full term and deliver a child that is only a reminder of her trauma.  

The Supreme Courthouse, where the law was declared constitutional and passed.

Not many are advocating for increases in abortion rates. There are not many people who derive genuine happiness from abortions themselves. However, if the goal is to decrease the number of abortions, stricter abortion laws are not the way to do it. In fact, abortion bans only increase the number of illegal, unsafe pregnancy terminations occurring at home, without the help of a doctor or professional. These at-home solutions can risk the life of the desperate woman, leading to an increased maternal mortality rate. The way to decrease abortions is through free contraceptives, comprehensive sex education, financial support for expecting mothers, a better adoption system, and family planning. The number one reason for abortions today is the financial struggles and costs associated with having a child. Even if the child goes into foster care directly after birth, the cost of checkups, treatment, and delivery itself can reach over $30,000. It is easy to see how this number alone is terrifying.  

The US foster care system is known for being harmful and at times abusive towards the children trapped in it.

It is a commonly held belief that unwanted pregnancy has no long-term effect on a woman’s life. The USA has a strong adoption system, so what’s the harm of carrying a fetus full term? A study by the University of California San Francisco shows the true impact forced pregnancies have on victims. By comparing the lives of women who were able to get an abortion to those who were denied one, we can see a clearer picture of how deeply it can affect one’s life. “We find large economic differences: the women who are denied are more likely to live in poverty, less likely to be fully employed, more likely to report that they don’t have enough money basic living expenses, compared to women who have received an abortion” the study claims. Additionally, “Women who received an abortion were 50 percent more likely to set an aspirational plan and achieve it – such as finishing their education, getting a better job, giving a good life to their children, being more financially stable.” There is unmistakable evidence that an unwanted pregnancy can wreak financial havoc on the lives of already struggling women and families. In addition to this, the pro-life claim that the US foster care system can take care of the children of unprepared women is blatantly false. Around 70% of those in the juvenile justice system have been in foster care at some point. Foster care children are 4x more likely to attempt or commit suicide. Even worse, approximately 60 percent of human trafficking victims were at one point part of the foster care system, according to the National Foster Youth Institution. Our system is failing, there is no care for children after they’re born. Our foster care and adoption systems must be strengthened before we can force women to have children they cannot support.

Aside from financial complications, even worse health complications can occur. Over 6x the number of women who gave birth developed life-threatening conditions as a result, compared to those who received abortions. In addition to this, the existing children of women denied abortions are more likely to have problems with “achieving developmental milestones having to do with language and motor skills, and social and emotional skills” according to the USCSF study done in 2019. They are also more likely to go hungry and never fully have their needs met. 


Texas Governor Greg Abbot, who fully supports the Heartbeat Bill

Evidence of classism, which still plays a role throughout our society, is clearer than ever in this bill. While there is still the choice for women to go out of state to seek fair treatment and legally end their pregnancies, this is just not realistic for many women. Those with financial resources and the ability to take time off from work to travel will have no issues getting access to safe and legal abortions. However, the vast majority of women seeking abortions are not financially stable enough to support a child and are therefore unlikely to be able to travel out of state. This leads to fear and unsafe methods, such as online pills and forced at-home miscarriages. These unsafe methods can lead to an incomplete termination of the fetus, causing severe birth defects.  

It is impossible to ignore the blatant hypocrisy of Texas republicans. While fighting against mask mandates and Covid-19 restrictions, citing their body, their choice, they go on to force women to carry unwanted pregnancies, potentially ruining their lives. Being unvaccinated and refusing to wear a mask could be deadly for millions of elderlies or those with compromised immune systems, or even those with no pre-existing conditions. Lawmakers prioritize unborn fetuses with no ability to form thoughts while risking the lives of actual humans for their personal convenience. While this law seemingly recognizes a fetus at 6 weeks as a baby, it does not provide any protection for the mothers carrying it. No welfare support is given to the mother, she cannot receive tax returns for her child, nor is it recognized as a US citizen.  

While impregnation is a two person act, the woman is the only one who must face any consequences (UTA Photograph Collection)

Interestingly, the Heartbeat Bill completely disregards the fact that sex, as well as impregnation, is a two-person act. It puts no responsibility on the man and instead only blames the woman. As usual, the men are put to no consequences, while the women must suffer for 9 months, and a lifetime beyond that. If women are to be forced to carry pregnancies, why are men not forced to provide emotional and financial support for the duration of the pregnancy and the child’s life? While this is unsurprising, it is still disappointing that even in the 21st century we are still facing blatant sexism and suppression of women’s rights. We will never be truly equal until we can stop punishing women for issues that affect everyone and leaving men blameless. 

 Conservatives don’t care for the life of the fetus. They care about the control that stricter abortion laws exercise over women. If they truly wished to reduce abortion rates, they would provide support for expectant mothers, rather than subjecting them and their children to a life of systematic poverty they may never break out of. The Heartbeat Bill seems to be just another blow in the war on women that’s been happening since the foundation of our nation.