Pro-choice movement set back by Texas abortion ban


Creative Commons by Carlos Lowry on Flickr

Pro-choice supporters protest the abortion ban in Texas. Although the ban did not go into effect until Sept. 1, abortion rights in Texas have been at risk for years now.

Nissa Wilcox, Layout Editor-In-Chief

Texas has banned abortions past six weeks, which has caused outrage across the country as Roe v. Wade, the decision made by the Supreme Court, in 1973, ruled in the Constitution a pregnant woman’s liberty to choose to have an abortion without excessive government restriction, could be threatened. Texas is the first state to ban abortion past six weeks, and it may not be the last.

However, the U.S. Department of Justice sued the state of Texas on Sept. 9, arguing that the law was unconstitutional because it allowed Texas to prohibit abortion, while technically complying with Roe v. Wade rulings by allowing private parties to enforce the new restrictions.

How it works

In order to comply with Roe v. Wade ruling, Texas will not be enforcing the law on a state level and will instead be encouraging civilians to enforce it. A $10,000 cash “reward” will be given to civilians who file a case for illegal abortion and win the case as a way to motivate citizens to file and report cases.

“The number of filed abortion cases are going to go up because people are empowered, they have a chance to get money out of it, and that’s going to lead to more cases. People are just going to be in it for the money, like ‘oh, if I can find a way to sue this person, then I can get money out of it if everything goes my way,’ and that’s just going to create more issues,” sophomore Leah Cody said.

The number of filed abortion cases are going to go up because people are empowered, they have a chance to get money out of it, and that’s going to lead to more cases. People are just going to be in it for the money.”

— Leah Cody

Patients cannot be sued, however, anyone who performs and aids with the abortion can, which will cause the availability of abortion even harder to come across as the provider will face charges. The defendant can never recoup their costs or attorney’s fees, even if they win the lawsuit. However, if the plaintiff wins, they are guaranteed to recoup costs and attorneys fees along with obtaining the $10,000 reward, showing bias in the system towards the plaintiff. 

Junior Ella Sevilla explained that this decision gave all odds to the plaintiff, “It doesn’t give the defendant any chance. Even if the plaintiff lost, which I’m sure they probably would not, they’re giving everything good to that side. And it’s just, the people who are helping someone get an abortion are left with nothing. Even if they do win, they have to pay for their own attorney and don’t get any fees back. That’s not fair. It scares everyone, every little part of the suing part, the abortion part, it scares everyone so, I understand that I should not help anyone with an abortion, but it’s also the right thing to do if someone is in need of an abortion.”

Main complaints

The law was created with no exceptions for rape or incest. Although a rapist cannot sue over an abortion provided to a survivor of rape, someone else has the right to file a case for the abortion.

Without considerations in the law for rape, survivors of rape who become pregnant must birth the baby.

“I think it will affect the repercussions, with this law in Texas if female survivors happen to become pregnant because of rape, I think that just will have more of like a devastating effect on mental health. So maybe the ban will not directly affect the rate of rape, but the rate of mental health, or the rate of illegal abortions,” senior Sophia Pietan explained.

Looking ahead

Abortions are still available to Texans in other states, however, if women choose to travel to other states, they may have to face a waiting period before receiving the abortion along with travel time and costs. Before the ban, the average distance to an abortion clinic was 12 miles, now that has grown to 248 miles.

Senior Michael May said having abortions legal in other states will skyrocket cases in other states that may not have the capacity for high abortion demands. Although some states might have extreme regulations and limits on abortion clinics and how they run and operate. There are some states very far and very close to the border with loosened restrictions. When there is a state as big as Texas, and they have these women flooding into other states to get abortions, that is costly for the drive, but also women in need of an abortion are going to need to take time off of work. Then, it is not a guarantee that these abortion clinics can take them.

In some situations, abortions are deemed necessary and with legal, safe abortions hard to come by, women may resort to at-home, unsafe abortions, putting the woman at high risk of excessive bleeding, mental trauma, and other health dangers. “It’s one of those things where abortion itself cannot be stopped. No matter what we’re talking about, things I’ve seen through history, women are going to get abortions. It’s just whether or not they’re going to be able to get safe abortions,” May explained.