Abortion bill upheld: Is this the start of a modern Handmaid’s Tale?

THE WOMEN IN RED: Pro-choice protesters march in Texas, dressed as the characters from Margaret Atwood’s dystopian book ‘The Handmaid’s Tale.’ Sergio Flores/Getty Images 

Daniella Flores & Cassidy O’Toner | Writers

September 8, 2021

On May 19, Texas signed into law its most restrictive and alarming abortion ban since Roe v. Wade in 1973. On September 1, after the United States Supreme Court failed to halt the enactment of this bill, it opened the flood gates for other states across the country to make abortion illegal.

According to the new Texas law, it states that an abortion cannot be performed as soon as a fetal heartbeat is detected, or after six weeks of development. The law relies on civil, rather than criminal, enforcement. This is a demonstration of a massive step back in the efforts to procure rights and bodily autonomy for women not just in Texas, but across the country.

Considering the time frame of six weeks often passes before many women are even aware they are pregnant, this could have a horrifying impact on many women’s lives. Amy Hagstrom Miller, the head of Whole Woman’s Health, shared that “about 90% of women who come to Whole Woman’s Health clinics are more than six weeks into their pregnancy”. 

Before the law went into effect, abortion clinics in neighboring states began experiencing a stark overload in appointment bookings and phone calls from women desperate for options. Medicated abortion, which requires pills that are given by a physician, is restricted under the new law.

Now, non-profit organizations like Plan C Pills are advocating for other methods of abortion. On their website, Plan C Pills guides women on where they can find safe, affordable, and accessible abortion pills in their area. Since the new law has been put into place, Plan C Pills has been promoting their ‘by-mail’ service where women can receive abortion pills by mail. 

The Texas bill even refused to protect abortion access in cases of rape and incest. Although they have made an exception for medical emergencies, all other abortions that do not fall within their parameters are prohibited. This has horrendous connotations, considering any child who is potentially raped by a family member will be required to carry their child to term unless there are medical complications.

Although these restrictions are inherently troubling, this law is not the first of its kind throughout the country. The unique, albeit abhorrent, characteristic of this act grants common citizens the ability to sue abortion providers or anyone who “knowingly engages in conduct that aids or abets the performance or inducement of an abortion.” This clause goes so far as to include anyone who pays for an abortion as well. Anyone found guilty of violating these directives will be fined $10,000 per abortion.

But it doesn’t stop there. Not only does this law criminalize even assisting in an abortion, they have also offered incentives to promote catching and suing those who have facilitated or received an abortion. Those who file a lawsuit will be awarded a minimum of $10,000, as well as attorney fees if they win.

Legalized bounty hunting aside, it should also be noted that this ban could open the gateway for rapists to now sue their victims as well. While this new law does technically prevent rapists from suing, it neglects the fact that the vast majority of assaults go largely unreported or don’t result in a conviction. 

USING THIER VOICE: Protestors outside the Texas Capitol on the day the law went into effect. Washington Post                                                          

This ban has sparked outrage throughout the states, even reaching our own home town, San Clemente.

“You cannot be pro-life and ban abortion access to the pregnant,” San Clemente High School junior Ava Miller said. “While at the same time you are refusing to wear a mask during a global pandemic that has killed millions of people.”

As this student pointed out the hypocrisy of those promoting and enforcing these restrictions, another student highlighted the paradox of the law itself. “It is unacceptable for basic women’s rights to be stripped away by laws,” senior Cameron Trunec said. “Especially since the Constitution outlines these basic human rights.” 

Despite this devastating blow to women across the nation, this law has done little to diminish their voices. Already protests have broken out across the country, concentrating primarily in the state of Texas. While the women of Texas may have lost the right to dictate what happens to their own bodies, it is apparent that women throughout the country will continue to exercise their right to assemble and protest until this law is thrown out. 

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