Opinion: The Texas Heartbeat Act


Photo by: (Jay Janner/Austin American-Statesman/AP) via Washington Post

Citizens protest the six-week abortion ban at the Capitol in Austin on Sept 1.

One staffer’s thoughts on Texas passing a law declaring women cannot legally seek an abortion six weeks after conception

A state has the audacity and cruelty to pass a law that limits a woman’s constitutional freedom and dictates what she can do with her body. A state that has passed a law that not only limits women’s reproductive freedoms, but gives citizens the right to persecute and sue others just for exercising their constitutional rights. Ladies and gentlemen, behold, Texas. 

Texas has recently passed a law declaring that a person living in this state cannot legally seek an abortion six weeks after conception. The law was passed on May 19 and commenced on Sep 1. The law also states that if a citizen of Texas suspects someone is illegally trying to seek an abortion, they can bring that person to court and sue them, and have a chance of winning up to $10,000 dollars from the suit. The law has been under a mountain of controversy in recent weeks and President Biden himself called the law an “open defiance of the Constitution.”  

Something to think about: this law was signed by Governor Greg Abbott, an individual who has clearly shown that he has little to no understanding of the female reproductive system. When he signed the law, Governor Abbott said that a woman would have up to six weeks after conception to get an abortion; however, this a naive and inaccurate statement. Many women do not know that they are pregnant at six weeks.

In an interview with CNN, New York Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez explained the science behind the six week window by saying, “Six weeks pregnant means two weeks late for your period. And two weeks late on your period for any person — any person with a menstrual cycle — can happen if you’re stressed, if your diet changes or for really no reason at all. So you don’t have six weeks.”

That statement has been repeated again and again by numerous experts who have given their opinion on the topic. The Texas Heartbeat Act has caused harm to the workplace industry, particularly to Planned Parenthood, who for the time being has had to shut down many of its facilities, forcing those seeking an abortion to travel far, or even travel out of state. Many OB/GYN employees feel targeted by the law and fear not only for themselves, but for the future of their career. In an interview with the BBC, Dr Ghazaleh Moayedi, an OB/GYN nurse said, “I’m afraid for my personal future and the future of my career as a result of this [law].”  And by far, the worst part about the law has to be that it will not make any exceptions for incest or rape victims. 

On Sep 14, the Department of Justice asked a federal judge to issue a temporary restraining order on the Texas law, stopping it from being enforced. Government lawyers from the Department argued that the law “gravely and irreparably impaired women’s ability to exercise their constitutional right to an abortion across the State.” The request to block the law is expected to move through the courts quickly, and could end up at the Supreme Court soon. However, legislation like this never should’ve passed in the first place. 

Many fear that if this law is allowed to continue, that other states will follow and put in place their own restrictive laws. If that comes to pass, women may be forced to turn to illegal, or even dangerous means to terminate a pregnancy, simply because they do not have access to a proper medical care provider. In an interview with BBC, Moayedi explained that “[her biggest fear] is for women who will seek dangerous alternatives to a medical abortion with the help of a doctor.”

A law that limits the rights and freedoms of women should’ve never been allowed to come into effect. Unfortunately, legislation furthering restrictions over the bodies of women has been repeated throughout history. Women’s freedoms have been constantly challenged. It’s only been 100 or so years since women have been given the right to vote, whereas men have been making the majority, if not all, the political decisions that have impacted this country. Even more recently has the social norm of expecting women to always be “presentable” and act “ladylike” begun to disappear. Nevertheless, women have been targeted by restrictions such as this before; this is another assault on women’s rights, and now we can only hope that something like this won’t happen again.