Rachel Clubine Horowitz ‘23 (She/ Her)
To say that I’m upset by Texas’ newest abortion ban, Senate Bill 8 (SB8), is a gross understatement. I’m angry, disappointed, devastated, and quite frankly, terrified. It’s been nearly two weeks since the Supreme Court, in a 5-4 vote, let pass into law one of the most extreme abortion bans the United States has seen in years. Texas now has the most restrictive abortion law in the United States. But what does this really mean? Not only does the new law block at least 85% of abortions in Texas—with “disproportionate impacts on Indigenous, Black, and Latino/a/x communities”—but it has also set a precedent for future abortion bans across the country. Lawmakers and courts in other states will look to Texas as a blueprint for future abortion bans.
Unfortunately, six-week abortion bans, often called “heartbeat bills,” are not new in the United States. But what makes SB8 especially horrifying is that anyone in the country (even out-of-state citizens) can sue “people or entities who ‘abet’ or even allegedly intend to ‘abet’ abortions in Texas after six weeks of pregnancy” for up to $10,000 per plaintiff. This could be anyone – the abortion provider, an Uber driver who drops a patient off at the abortion clinic, a friend who provides money for the transportation to said abortion clinic. The list goes on. SB8 is also written in such a way that makes it extremely difficult to fight in court because it’s “supposed to be enforced by everyday citizens,” meaning that “there’s no single Texas official whom abortion rights advocates can sue to block the law.”
All of this aside, SB8 is blatantly unconstitutional, given the decades of legal precedent that support abortion as a matter of privacy. The landmark 1973 Supreme Court case Roe v. Wade protects a person’s right to abortion until fetal viability, or roughly 22-24 weeks of pregnancy. For the average person with a uterus, six weeks of pregnancy is just two weeks after a first missed period. SB8 also further isolates and alienates those seeking abortions and places a target on any individual with a uterus. By placing a bounty on every person seeking an abortion, SB8 makes an abortion – which is a personal decision – anyone’s business.
It’s also important to note that banning or severely restricting abortion access doesn’t prevent abortions from happening; it only makes them more dangerous. If the government wants to decrease rates of abortion, there are numerous steps they can take, but banning abortion is not one of them. To name just a few, they can increase access to effective and affordable contraceptive methods. They can invest in comprehensive and inclusive sexual education programs, increase access to affordable child care, and support mandatory parental leave for new parents, etc. There is nothing “pro-life” about abortion bans, and SB8 is a direct assault on an individual’s consitutional right to abortion access.
Going to school at Davidson means that I’m over 1,000 miles from my hometown of Austin, Texas, and for a while, I felt pretty helpless as I read news update after news update following the aftermath of September 1st. But whether in Texas, or halfway across the country, there’s always a way to actively continue the fight for access to safe and legal abortions. It’s essential to keep the conversation going and break the stigma surrounding abortions—educate oneself, post on social media, attend protests, share stories, etc. Support local Texas abortion funds—such as Bridge Collective, Clinic Access Support Network, Whole Woman’s Health Alliance, Inc., Texas Equal Access Fund, West Fund, the Lilith Fund, Support Your Sistah at the Afiya Center, Frontera Fund, Fund Texas Choice, and Jane’s Due Process. Join Davidson’s Parenthood Generation Action (PPGA). Volunteer at local abortion clinics. So long as these unconstitutional restrictions on abortions and reproductive healthcare continue, the fight is far from over.
Rachel Clubine Horowitz ‘23 (she/her/hers) is a Public Health major from Austin, Texas. Rachel can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.