Society of Bioethics and Medicine
Six Weeks In Texas
Written by: Marium Ghobriel
Edited by: Ishraq Nihal
Texas has recently come under America’s attention and scrutiny after its legislators passed a law that banned the majority of abortions after six weeks of pregnancy. Women have had their right to abortion protected since 1973 by Roe v Wade, but the new Texas abortion law, made by largely male lawmakers, have put pregnant women in a difficult situation that endangers their both health and well-being. Out of the 40 weeks that a typical pregnancy lasts, a woman in Texas now has about six weeks to terminate it, though this is an incredibly short amount of time, and many women are not even aware that they are pregnant until well past this point.
The most common hallmark of pregnancy is a missed period. The menstrual cycle is about four weeks long, meaning that once someone misses their period, they have already been pregnant for most of the allotted six week period. This gives them a mere two weeks to see a doctor and make a decision on how to proceed with a life changing event. The exceptions to this law are slim, and are only for those whose lives are in danger if they were to give birth. This means that women who became pregnant as a result of rape or incest will be forced to carry their abuser’s child — the law does not even take into account the danger that children of incest face.
Despite the blatant unconstitutionality of the abortion ban, it will be difficult to take the matter into federal court. The Supreme Court rejected an emergency request to block this law, but not based on whether it was constitutional. Rather, it was because the state will not be enforcing this law, where it can be challenged and barred — instead, the law grants citizens to uphold it. The people of Texas are now able to sue anyone who performs a procedure or allows it to occur, with a financial benefit of at least $10,000 if they win the case. This makes it hard to challenge this in court because usually state officials would be the defendants, but because the defendants would be citizens, it likely will not be a matter of whether the law is unconstitutional as they did not create the law.
This law puts women at risk in many aspects. Making abortions illegal will not stop them from happening, but they will be done in unsafe manners. The safety net that was the Roe v Wade decision has now been snatched away for the sake of “life”, despite the fact that it has been proven that the cardiac activity that has supposedly been detected in the early weeks of pregnancy is not actually a heartbeat. The embryo cannot survive on its own, and the heart has not even been developed. Additionally, this cardiac activity does not signify whether the embryo is healthy or capable of living — it is simply electrical activity occurring in the patient’s body. Abortion clinics have estimated that 85% of those looking to undergo the procedure have been pregnant for over six weeks. Texas, now the state with the most restrictive abortion law, must evaluate whether they are truly pro-life as they pass a law that completely disregards any care for the women that live there.
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