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    • Protests against new abortion laws underway in Texas.

Hypocritical Texas Abortion Laws Target Women’s Rights

Abby Regan ’22 Lead Op-Ed Editor
A recently-passed law in Texas bans abortions after six weeks of pregnancy, or when the first signs of cardiac activity can be detected.
Six weeks is before most women realize they’re pregnant. If a woman is tracking her period closely enough, she may realize she’s late at about four weeks, leaving her two weeks to confirm the pregnancy with a test and make a decision. The Texas law, among other “heartbeat” laws in states like Mississippi, Georgia, Kentucky, and Ohio, bans abortions 18 weeks earlier than the precedent set by the 1973 Supreme Court case Roe v. Wade. The monumental case sparked the right to privacy for abortions and the right to have one before 24 weeks of pregnancy. In the Texas law there are few medical exceptions, and rape and incest are not included among these. According to The New York Times, there are seven million women of childbearing age in Texas. For many, such as teens, low-income individuals, and undocumented immigrants, the obstacles created by this law are too vast. Advocating against the Texas law or being pro-choice does not necessarily mean pro-abortion. It recognizes that the only people who should make a decision about a woman’s body is herself and her doctor. From a legal standpoint alone, the Texas law is hypocritical and targets women, their health, and their bodily autonomy.

The Texas law is purely about sexism and controlling women’s bodies. Depending on the woman and her individual menstrual cycle, on average women are fertile (able to get pregnant) six days per cycle, or 36 days per year. Men, on the other hand, are potentially fertile every day of the year. Let’s entertain a hypothetical: What if the government forced all men to undergo a reversible vasectomy, only to be reversed when the man is ready to have children? Wouldn’t this be considered an infringement of basic human rights, taking away bodily autonomy from men? Why is it different for women? If a child got in a car accident and needed a blood transfusion to live and you were the only person able to provide that blood, you are not legally forced to do so. You are not required to give away any part of your body for another person. Even if your blood is the only hope of survival; even if the child is a saint or a genius; even if your rationale for not giving blood doesn’t make sense to someone else. The point being you are not legally obligated to give blood if you do not consent. Similarly, after we die, we don’t have to give away our organs if we did not consent to it while we were alive. A woman’s uterus is an organ. She does not have to give it up after she dies nor use it to have a child if she does not want to.

To the people promoting pro-life or trying to force a woman to carry out a pregnancy, regardless of her consent in the matter: do you support universal health care so the child-bearer and child have full access to necessary medical care? Or do you support better sex education in schools so adolescents are well-informed about contraception, sexual assault and consensual sex, and more? Do you support more widely accessible contraception? Do you support financial aid and care for low-income families with children? Do you support orphans or advocate for adoption? If you answered no to any of these questions, can you in good conscience force a woman to have a child?

In 1984, the Netherlandsfully legalized abortions; abortions can be performed up until the 21st week of pregnancy, or the 24th if for medical reasons. The Netherlands also has one of the lowest abortion rates in the world. Un-safe abortions are very rarely practiced. In addition to the abortion laws, there is extensive and real sex education happening, as well as easy access to contraceptives. Health and safety is the priority. In most cases, restrictive abortion laws don’t actually curb the number of abortions; they just lead to unsafe ones. In 2020, the abortion rate in the Netherlands was less than half of the rate in the United States.

It is important to recognize the legal and moral sides of the abortion debate. Morally, it is up to you to decide. Legally, individual religious or other beliefs can- not be factored into decisions about laws without clear and truthful evidence and support. The Supreme Court case of Roe v. Wade already granted rights to abortion and it should not be overturned nor should states be finding loopholes. It is unconstitutional to deny women the right to make decisions about their own bodies. The Netherlands and countries with similar policies set an example while the United States fails to curb abortion rates and teach young people about safe sex, all while codifying sexism into law.
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