By Emma Reilly
Senate Bill 8, the controversial and restrictive abortion bill passed into law by Texas on Sept. 1, is still in effect in the state. Under S.B. 8, abortions after six months of pregnancy are prohibited — despite the fact that many people do not realize they are pregnant at that stage.
The law limits the ability of individuals with uteri to make decisions about their bodies, and presents a range of hard-hitting challenges to Texans who want to get an abortion. It is shocking that S.B. 8 remains in effect after more than two and a half months. Political perspectives aside, the law should be abolished.
The United States Supreme Court heard two oral arguments in opposition of S.B. 8 on Nov. 1, but the bill was not explicitly deemed to be in opposition to the precedent set by Roe v. Wade.
The 1973 Roe v. Wade decision declared that abortions should not be criminalized — and what is S.B. 8 doing, if not that? Unfortunately, the law’s enforcement apparatus has made it difficult for the law to be opposed so straightforwardly.
According to a Sept. 1 statement made by President Joe Biden, “[S.B. 8] deputizes private citizens to bring lawsuits against anyone who they believe has helped another person get an abortion.”
This facet of the law is outrageous, and has complicated attempts to oppose it.
According to Vox, “the anti-abortion law…presents a maze of procedural complexities that are rarely seen in even the most complicated ligitation.”
Americans disappointed by the lack of action taken to reverse S.B. 8’s implementation will likely have to wait until the court’s Dec. 1 consideration of oral arguments for a Mississippi abortion case to see any substantial developments on the issue.
In the meantime, pregnant people in Texas will continue to face obstacles that we should not ignore.
According to ABC News, “the near-total ban on abortion has dramatically decreased the volume of women obtaining care in the state.”
Forced to consider out-of-state resources, Texans who want abortions are sacrificing their often limited time, resources, and money to travel for care. As a result of having to make preparations to leave the state, these people are forced to get abortions at an even later stage of pregnancy.
“Ironically, a law intended to limit abortion later in pregnancy instead may have the effect of increasing second-trimester abortion among Texans obtaining care elsewhere,” Principal Investigator of the Texas Policy Evaluation Project Kari White said.
People who are unable to travel to obtain an abortion will faced the physical, emotional, and economic challenges of an unwanted pregnancy.
According to the American Journal of Public Health, the chances of a pregnant individual and their future child living in poverty quadruples if the pregnancy is unwanted.
Under S.B. 8, pregnant Texans are faced with the possibility of giving birth to a child they will be unable to financially support.
Additionally, people will face severe emotional strain as their ability to make decisions about their health and lives is withheld. Pregnant people with health concerns will have to consider whether their situation will qualify under S.B. 8’s life-or-death provision.
All the effects of S.B. 8 will be long lasting, whether or not the law is deemed unconstitutional in the future.
“Once the network of care is dismantled, it cannot easily be rebuilt,” White said.
S.B. 8 will continue to impact Americans, and Texans in particular, for months — maybe years — to come. We should continue to advocate for change, but we should also remember that the law’s implications extend beyond the realm of politics. While heated national debates are occurring, real people’s lives are being irreversibly affected at the local level, and we can’t lose sight of that.
Photo Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
Featured Photo Caption: Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed S.B. 8 into law on Sept. 1, restricting abortions in the state.