In this week’s Keeping It Z column, we’re talking about what the abortion ban in Texas means for young people.
On September 1, a Texas law banning abortions after 6 weeks went into effect. I’m based in Texas, which is home to millions of people, and I’m horrified.
During the summer of 2021, Gov. Greg Abbott signed two laws that made reproductive autonomy all the more unattainable: the first banned abortions after 6 weeks, making it possible for any private individual to sue those believed to help an abortion seeker get care, as well as as providers, while the other would illegalize abortion.
Anyone who is able to sue an abortion provider and win will receive $10,000. This means the state is not the one enforcing the law, making circumventing Roe v. Wade possible. Roe v. Wade, 410 U.S. 113 is a 1973 decision by the U.S. Supreme Court that makes it possible for people to legally obtain abortions without extreme government interference.
There is no leniency here, meaning those who are victims of incest or rape still would not be able to receive abortions after six weeks. According to NPR, Texas Right to Life has set up a site that allows people to anonymously submit those they believe are breaking the law.
“It’s unusually cruel and intended to intimidate physicians and other clinic staff out of providing abortion for fear of facing frivolous lawsuits and court orders shutting their doors,” Planned Parenthood shared in a press release. “It also comes ahead of Supreme Court oral arguments in a case from Mississippi about a different abortion ban that could overturn Roe v. Wade.”
I know this law means abortions after 6 weeks will continue to happen across Texas, the procedures may just be riddled with anxiety for professionals and patients. It is also not lost on me that primarily Black people and people of color are the ones receiving abortions in Texas, therefore making them the ones most affected by this decision. I understand these lawmakers’ care for human life halts after the abortion process is blocked. As outlined by American Progress, the same concern is not extended to those who need postpartum mental health assistance, health care, unproblematic child care and helpful family leave. It’s obvious that this law is about a sense of “morality” and control.
This law proves fundamental distrust in citizens, particularly young millennials and Gen Z-ers—in 2019, 66% of those who received abortions in Texas were under the age of 29. It could also set a precedent for other conservative states looking to control citizens’ bodies.
I’m not surprised that even in the midst of all of the turmoil Texas is undergoing—particularly the complete return to in-person learning without mask mandates—that lording over women’s bodies continues to be a priority. This further exposes ill intentions under the guise of righteousness, when the same idea emboldens people to forgo crucial safety precautions that may slow the spread of COVID-19. Agitation over health is fluid in Texas and is wielded when it comes to how others care for themselves.
People don’t need to walk with heightened fear when doing what’s best for them. I wish the government would focus on the actual issues Texans face, like homelessness and increasing temperatures, instead of forcing unnecessary, restrictive laws on us. We can make our own decisions, but if we are not given the chance to do so, generations will suffer.