By Emma Reilly
The topic of abortion has always been controversial, which is something I still struggle to understand.
People who are pregnant should get to decide how to handle their pregnancy. Bodily autonomy is something to be defended and cherished. It’s that rudimentary.
But this idea isn’t clear to everyone, and in light of recent events in Texas, we’ve been forced to contemplate the urgency of that reality more starkly than ever before.
On Sept. 1, Senate Bill 8, a law banning abortions after six weeks of pregnancy, went into effect in the state of Texas. S.B. 8 is completely unprecedented.
According to “VICE”’s Carter Sherman, there hasn’t been an abortion law of S.B. 8’s scope enacted before. While several conservative states previously proposed similar laws, they were all blocked by the courts.
S.B. 8 blatantly opposes the Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, which legalized abortions under the Constitutional right to privacy. By promoting vigilante justice and preventing abortions before many people will know they are pregnant, S.B. 8 undermines the precedent established by the decision.
Despite this, “the Supreme Court declined to stop the legislation from taking effect,” The New York Times’s Alan Feuer said.
Some conservatives argue that the law doesn’t contradict the Roe v. Wade decision because it still allows for abortions to take place up to six weeks after conception.
But that technicality fails to recognize the truth of pregnancy.
Most people won’t know they are pregnant at six weeks, according to “Self”’s Lindsey Lanquist. Six weeks into a pregnancy constitutes only one missed period, and people who menstruate know all too well the unpredictability of the menstrual cycle.
It’s terrifying to think that a window so small — and which varies so significantly from person to person — is seen by some as an adequate opportunity to have an abortion.
In addition to its six-week restriction, S.B. 8 differs from other laws concerning abortion, as it shifts the responsibility of enforcing the law from the courts to the average citizen.
“It removes enforcement entirely from state jurisdiction, and vastly expands who can sue, and who can be sued, over abortions,” Feuer said.
S.B. 8 “incentivizes” citizens to sue individuals who get abortions or provide aid for an abortion past the cutoff in exchange for financial compensation, according to “POLITICO”’s Alice Ollstein.
This incentivization pits Texans against one another in an unfair fight. Those who report abortions will get paid, but the people they sue will face the loss of their autonomy and privacy.
This shift in the judicial landscape is concerning. If one arguably unconstitutional law can be put into effect unopposed, why can’t another?
Although I’d like to hope this will be an isolated occurrence, it’s unlikely.
According to ABC News, lawmakers in Arkansas, Florida, South Dakota, Idaho, Indiana, and Oklahoma have shown interest in passing abortion laws similar to the one passed by Texas.
In order to prevent this violating trend from continuing, we need to be vocal. There has already been an encouraging volume of negative press in response to the law, and it has been denounced by President Joe Biden as “un-American.”
I, like many, have felt scared, stressed, and uncertain as news about the law continues to circulate. I can only begin to imagine how people in Texas are feeling.
It is my belief that the rights protected by Roe v. Wade should be converted to federal law. This would protect the right to choose to have an abortion from both state and federal judicial decisions that pose a risk to that right.
The conservative supermajority in the Supreme Court, however, will make any efforts to undo S.B. 8 quite difficult.
We, as citizens of the United States and as humans, should be wary of the attitudes from which Texas’s law was born. S.B. 8 reflects a concerning and ever-growing fervor of suppression that should not be overlooked.