I hope everyone is okay! Sorry I haven’t posted recently… life has been somewhat busy as I’ve started university again and moved out of home etc. But I’m back!! Today I wanted to talk about the abortion laws and the issues surrounding it in Texas. You may well have seen this talked about on social media but as a student of Politics I wanted to weigh in on it if that’s okay. Just a pre warning too… some of the subjects raised in this post might be triggering so please continue with caution and look after yourself!
Recently, Texas passed a law making abortion illegal after only 6 weeks. One of the clauses in the law also means that you can be sued for having, carrying out or facilitating an abortion after this point – which is disgusting and puts a bounty on a woman’s head. The governor of Texas (Gregg Abbot – a middle aged Republican white man) was defending the law when congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio Cortex (Girl Boss!!!) called him out on his ignorance surrounding female biology. This prompted me to write this post…
Anyone who understands basic female biology would know that banning abortions after 6 weeks means that the woman only has 2 theoretical weeks to decide whether she wants an abortion. However, if her period is late this reduces the time. A period being 2 weeks late is also completely normal and is not always indicative of a pregnancy, giving the women effectively no time to make the important decision whether she wants to terminate the pregnancy. The law also amounts to an almost complete ban on abortion because 85-90% of abortions take place after 6 weeks. What makes me so angry here is that men are ruling on and dictating female bodies, and in many cases, with no knowledge of how the female body works – 77% of the Texas senate are men. This is also why it’s so important to get more female representation at the top level of government to try and stop these sorts of laws being passed as you would hope having more women in power would lead to further protection of women’s rights. What is ironic to me is that Gregg Abbot, who initiated this law, is the same governor who refused to mandate making masks a legal requirement during the pandemic because he argued it should be down to choice. Yet when it comes to women’s bodies the argument has somewhat changed.
The topic of abortion in the cases of rape was raised to Abbot to which his response was that he was going to “eliminate rapists off the streets of Texas” which once again only proves his ignorance surrounding these issues. Not only do rapists not parade the streets with a sign on their head saying “catch me I’m a rapist” but they are often known to the victims. This can make it incredibly difficult and traumatic to report the perpetrator, without even taking into the consideration of the social stigma surrounding reporting cases of rape. If they are reported prosecution rates are heartbreakingly low and in a conservative state like Texas where judges are also political this makes it even more difficult. Furthermore, I would argue that reporting and prosecuting rapists (whilst morally right) is not the long-term solution to eliminating sexual violence. In an ideal world, I think there should be better education surrounding consent, sex and what constitutes as rape for both men and women. Sadly, and unsurprisingly given the current government of Texas, the state has recently changed its sex education and removed all topics surrounding consent.
Another caveat to the abortion debate is the religious views that are often attached to the pro-life arguments. Whilst I can respect these views, what I find so difficult to stomach is that the religious ideals of certain individuals are being enforced on others. For me it comes down to choice and giving the agency to every woman to decide what to do with her body, which this law is destroying. It will also not reduce abortions but instead just force them underground into more unsafe conditions for both the mother and the baby.
Finally, the last part of this issue that really scares me is that the right to an abortion in the USA is being challenged in the Supreme Court at a national level– as it isn’t an entrenched law but can be effectively overturned by the Supreme Court if it rules in favour of a pro-life argument. Currently there is a case working its way up the high courts from Mississippi which threatens Roe v Wade (the law protecting the right to abortion). This will go to the Supreme court in December. The concerning thing is that the current Supreme court is 5-4 conservative leaning making it more threatening to abortion rights. If Roe v Wade gets overturned then it will make it even more difficult to challenge the law in Texas.
I try to always leave these blog posts on a positive note but in this case, I am struggling because I am sure, like you, hearing and reading about this leaves you feeling cold, upset and angry. And whilst it can sometimes feel like progress is being reversed in cases like these it is also very impressive and empowering to see women like AOC as well as countless other women call out the men making these laws on their ignorance and the issues these laws create for women. I think it also important to bear in mind that the USA is excellent at creating grassroot movements very quickly to fight for these rights so one can only hope that these movement will be enough to protect and further women’s rights.
I hope this article is somewhat useful and some of my thoughts have been interesting and it isn’t just me ranting about silly old white men. I also just want to say again that a lot of the topics raised in this article can be upsetting and triggering so please do look after yourself and take time to process everything.
Love and hugs as ever,
Your GINA sister