On Saturday October 2nd, women around the world will be marching against restrictive abortion bills that have been spreading throughout the country. Many people in the community of Orono will be rallying in support of pro-choice policy. If you want to stand for women’s rights to choose privacy, along with affordable and accessible healthcare, please join me and other allies at the University of Maine mall at noon to protest against pro-life political agendas and legislation.
At the beginning of September, Texas enacted S. B. 8, a pro-life “heartbeat bill”, which limits abortion to before six weeks of pregnancy. It also offers cash rewards to civilians who sue women, clinics, doctors or even transportation services involved in providing an abortion after the initial six weeks. Those who sue and win the lawsuit will receive a judgement reward of $10,000 and coverage of their legal fees from the pocket book of the defendant. This policy incentivizes the general public to act as deputies in enforcing a pro-life agenda and adds yet another financial barrier to those seeking a safe abortion. As a result, abortion practices have stalled in Texas since the passing of the policy.
The law violates prior legal precedents to the right of privacy established in Supreme Court cases Planned Parenthood vs. Casey and Roe vs. Wade. This upright neglect for constitutional law is not the only burning red flag that organizations such as the American Civil Liberties Union and Justice Department are waving. Another major ethical concern for this policy stems from the creation of societal “bounty hunters”, making it nearly impossible for abortion clinics to safely exist in Texas. The citizens of Texas who engage in this policy and sue those involved in providing an abortion will be acting as agents for the state of Texas, essentially doing the dirty work in enforcing the state governments pro-life agenda.
The new policy encourages citizens to prioritize their own marginal utility of a cash reward above the wellbeing of women everywhere. Those who take advantage of law can profit off of exposing other citizens’ medical history which is entirely unethical. Furthermore, women and medical providers are incentivized against performing abortions as many cannot afford the legal fees and judgement prizes that are a punishment of this new policy. Laws like S. B. 8 are driving the abortion industry underground, as it was five decades ago. The demand for abortion will stay relatively constant while the supply for safe abortion dwindles, creating market failure in the healthcare domain at the fault of public policy.
Restricting abortion is dangerous and potentially deadly as women have to resort to “back alley abortions”. The potential danger these “back alley abortions” cause creates a social cost that outweighs the loss that the policy is set out to minimize, embryo termination. Why is an embryo less than halfway through the first trimester granted more value than the actual living woman?
There seems to be no limit on who can be targeted by S. B. 8 as this law extends to even punishing transportation services of women to an abortion clinic- whether the driver is aware of this or not. Businesses such as Uber and Lyft have already come forward against S. B. 8 and have pledged to pay for the legal fees of the drivers sued for safely transporting clients who received abortions. People who are trying to make a living through providing transportation are now also at jeopardy through this policy.
In conclusion, this bill uses economic incentive to violate the constitutional privacy of women, health providers, and others involved in the provision of abortions after six weeks of pregnancy. This policy is too limiting and jeopardizes the safety of women. Please participate on October 2nd in the Women’s March to tell lawmakers throughout the country that they cannot take away a women’s right to choose.
For more resources on how to get involved, check the Women’s March official website.