On September 1, the most despicable abortion law in Texas history will go into effect. Signed into law by Governor Greg Abbott at the end of last month, SB8 will directly harm Texas women and negatively impact a state already riddled by sexist policies.
The law, SB8, contains a myriad of limitations to abortion within the state. By its own words, the law “[expresses] the state’s profound respect for the life of the unborn,” notably by enacting sweeping restrictions on abortion in the state. Apparently recognizing the unconstitutionality of banning abortion outright, the state has settled for making abortions potentially deadly and legally fraught.
First, the law bans what it refers to as “dismemberment abortions,” which is a misleading, non-medical term for what physicians call “dilation and extraction.” This procedure is far and away the safest and most common form of abortion, and its prohibition) will directly lead to deaths among pregnant women seeking abortions. Texas, a state which leads both the United States and the entirety of the developed world in maternal mortality rates, has once again chosen “respect for the unborn” above the wellbeing of adult women within the state of Texas.
Second, the law requires that performers of abortions dispose of fetal tissue in a dignified manner. Namely, the law mandates that aborted fetal tissue be cremated or buried. Aside from the childish immaturity of such a mandate, it once more prioritizes unborn fetuses above adult women and forces already strained abortion providers to devote funds to performing needless, symbolic gestures aimed at honoring a life that never inarguably existed.
Third, the law criminalizes performing or assisting the practices mentioned above. Most abortion laws have historically restrained themselves to fines or license removals when dealing with violations. However, this law introduces the possibility of jail time for physicians performing these acts, as well as for citizens who assist them. The bill remains intentionally vague on this subject, but this vagueness has been interpreted by many as the potential criminalization of assisting a woman getting an abortion. Explicitly, the law enacts the possibility of a civil case on the part of the father or potential grandparents of the unborn fetus can bring civil charges against those that perform or aid the abortion without their consent. Further, it explicitly prohibits local governments or actors from not enforcing this cruel law.
Last, this law is fiscally idiotic for the citizens of Texas. It’s obvious violation of a woman’s constitutional right to an abortion will lead to a court battle. Perhaps, like SB2 in 2013, it will go to the Supreme Court, and the taxpayers would again foot the bill. For the party of so-called economic conservatism, the Republicans have ignored the nearly unavoidable and immense cost of passing a bill they know is likely to fail.
People can argue about whether or not an unborn fetus constitutes a living being, but I should never have to defend the right of adult women to life within the state of Texas. This cruel and shameful law prioritizes unborn fetuses — arguably but not definitively alive — above the lives of women who undoubtedly and undeniably deserve better. Texas leads the developed world in deaths as a result of pregnancy, and laws like this make no mistake that this state does not care about its women. Likely, this law will fail, but its message will remain.
Liza is a Plan II and history sophomore from Houston.