Heartbeat Act: War against Women

Katie Gruhn, Contributing Writer

On September 1st, almost a whole month ago, one of the most restrictive laws in the country took effect. Men now must pay for Viagra. Just kidding, that would never happen, but the war against women surely persists. In May of 2021, the “Heartbeat Act” was signed into law by Texas Governor, Greg Abbot, a man.

This law took effect on September 1st and limits women’s access to abortion to the extent where abortion is essentially no longer an option. The law states that women may not receive an abortion past 6 weeks, and if an abortion were to happen, any person who aided a women in receiving said abortion could and be can sued. It authorizes “a private civil right of action”. Meaning, literally anyone can take it upon themselves to sue an abortion provider for preforming an abortion, and then can be awarded $10,000 if the vigilante plaintiff wins, if they lose, they do not have to pay any defendant costs. This incentivizes citizens to take on a bounty hunter role that targets women and their access to reproductive health care. It also results in clinics not doing abortions at all due to fear of paying legal fees if they are accused of performing an abortion past 6 weeks.

You may be wondering, how did such a restrictive, damaging, and life altering law even pass to begin with? Simply put, the Supreme Court did nothing. They ignored the emergency appeal by abortion providers and failed to protect women’s constitutional rights. Let’s get into the real-life implications of this law. There are 29 million people who live in the state of Texas. Cut that number in half to be representative of women in Texas and you get 14.5 million women. Cut that number in half one more time to represent the number of women, who are currently menstruating and could have an unwanted pregnancy, and you get 7.25 million.

In Texas right now, allegedly over 7 million women could be in a multitude of situations where they do not want to have a child. A 12-year-old who was raped by her trusted uncle must carry a child when she, herself is a child. A 22-year-old who already has two children she cannot financially care for had to bring another child into the world. A 35-year-old finally escaped from her toxic living situation only to find out she is pregnant with her abuser’s child; she is forced to maintain a relationship with him because she can’t raise a child on her own.

I just offered three, possible and valid real-life situations that will be the sad truth for over 7 million women in Texas. Were these hypothetical situations thought of before the heartbeat Act was signed? Mr. Greg Abbot surely did not. Thankfully, there is some hope in sight due to The Department of Justice taking action and suing the state of Texas. The Justice Department is seeking a permanent injunction, but it is likely that the Supreme Court will be the final decision-making body. Until then, women in Texas will remain living without the freedom to choose. Thus, the fight for women’s equality continues.