For centuries women have had to fight to share the same rights as men. One would think that come the year 2021, this would be a battle long over. On the surface, society appears to have made leaps and bounds surrounding gender equality and equality of marginalized groups overall. However, the most recent abortion law passed in Texas has proved this assumption very wrong.
On September 1st, 2021, Texas’s newest restrictions on women’s ability to choose were put into action. The new law is as follows:
“Against any person who: performs or induces an abortion in violation of this subchapter; knowingly engages in conduct that aids or abets the performance or inducement of an abortion…intends to engage in the conduct described…shall be enforced exclusively through the private civil actions described in section 171.208.”
This line explains the newest regulation in Texas that someone cannot receive an abortion past 6 weeks from their last menstrustal cycle and if found performing such an action, that person, as well as anyone else even remotely involved, can be sued in a civil action. The doctor who performed the procedure, a family member who helped pay for the procedure, and even the driver to the clinic are all at risk of being sued for their involvement. Furthermore, if the plaintiff in these lawsuits wins the suit, they will be awarded a $10,000 “bounty” for their success. This action is ultimately encouraging civilians to partake in these lawsuits. 10 people may sue the same person or clinic over their involvement in one single abortion at a time but only one platiff will be able to collect this bounty. To make matters worse, someone can be sued for up to four years following their abortion. The law also has clauses to work against possible defenses:
“The following are not a defense: ignorance or mistake of law; a defendant’s belief that the requirements of this subchapter are unconstitutional or were unconstitutional; a defendant’s reliance on any court decision that has been overruled on appeal or by a subsequent court.”
This clause deems the past rule on abortion established in 1973 via the Roe v. Wade case no longer valid. Roe v. Wade was a monumental win for feminism and pro-choice advocates alike. It legalized abortion giving women the right to terminate a pregnacy at any point during the first trimester.
Furthermore, the new Texas law does not have an exception for rape or incest. The rapist themselves may not sue but a different civilian does still possess the right to sue regardless of the situation: “A civil action under this section may not be brought by a person who is impregnated the abortion patient through an act of rape, sexual assault, incest.” Such rules are creating a world where victims of these situations have nowhere to turn for help.
The change in Texas law will not only make getting an abortion extremely diffcult, but will also discourage anyone from helping women in these positions. Regardless of one’s stance on pro-life versus pro-choice, we must all recognize the gross abuse of power this law represents. Through supporting and allowing laws such as this, the line between what a government can and cannot control within society is blurred. Government is intended to act with the people’s best interests at heart, it is not intended to have total control over certain groups. This new abortion law in Texas contributes to a society in which woman no longer have the rights we have fought so hard for. In fact, it takes away a woman’s most basic right: the right to her own body.