Reproduction is a core part of human life and determines the quality and longevity of life. Although conception and birth are expected to be voluntary, many women have fallen victims to unplanned and unwanted pregnancies. According to Barton et al. (2017), unplanned pregnancies result in psychological problems among women. Unintended pregnancy is widespread over the world; roughly 30 million births were estimated to have occurred due to unwanted conception in 2012 (Barton et al., 2017). Such pregnancies can have negative health consequences for both the mother and the baby. According to research, 19 percent of married women and 34% of cohabiting women felt “conflicted” about their pregnancies (Barton et al., 2017). The challenges associated with unplanned pregnancies have led many women to consider abortion, which affects individuals and societies alike. In an attempt to alleviate the negative consequences of abortion, the Texas new abortion law was established and has raised serious criticisms from various stakeholders.
Abortion is a sensitive issue and has been going on for decades with and without medical support. Several reasons have been cited in favor of abortion, including financial instability, psychological challenges, and serious medical conditions (Barton et al., 2017). People have a right to healthcare and can make logical decisions over their bodies. The Texas new abortion law seeks to abolish abortion in a move that will seriously impact many women globally. This new law affects human rights since it obstructs women’s privilege to decide what to do with their bodies.
While the Texas government may be concerned over the increased rate of abortion and destruction of human life, some health conditions have not been considered. There are instances when pregnant women have to choose between their lives and the unborn baby’s life. In such cases, abolishing abortion would lead to more deaths than saving lives. Again, childbirth should be a personal decision that should contribute to psychological wellbeing. In some cases, such as rape, the resultant pregnancy affects women emotionally and mentally. Therefore abolishing abortion would lead to increased psychological torture among women.
After conception, the unborn baby develops in several steps, becoming more like a human being as time goes. By the fifth week, the unborn child is considered to be fully developed and, therefore, has the right to life (Barton et al., 2017). Aborting the fetus at this point can be equated to killing an innocent child. The Texas law proposes that after five weeks and six days, a woman shall not procure an abortion (Tanne, 2021). A vital aspect of the law is that it gives individuals the authority to sue any person assisting a woman in aborting through a procedure at the hospital or selling abortion pills. The new abortion law can be traced back to the Heartbeat Act (Senate Bill (SB) 8), which came to effect on September 1, 2021(Tanne, 2021). Before the SB8 was signed into the new abortion law, several criticisms and appeals were made against its enforcement.
Local and international stakeholders on women’s health sought to oppose the Bill just as proponents took the opportunity to advocate for anti-abortion. The US Justice Department filed a legal lawsuit against the Act in the United States District Court for Texas eight days after it took effect (Tanne, 2021). According to the complaint lodged, SB8 is superseded by federal law and interferes with the execution of abortion-related operations by federal agencies and the associated contractors (Tanne, 2021). Most of the lawsuits and appeals demonstrate the new law’s violation of human rights and interfering with the legal processes.
Shortly after the SB8 was passed by the Texas legislature, many advocates and abortion-services providers rose to halt its implementation. A Dallas lawyer filed a complaint and accompanying plea for a restraining order, contending that the Bill prohibits attorneys from discussing abortion with their clients (Tanne, 2021). In cases of rape and incest, the law violates attorney-client privilege and hinders victims’ rights of the sexually abused. Abbott signed Senate Bill 4 on September 21, 2021, prohibiting anyone from “offering an abortion-inducing substance to a pregnant woman without completing the applicable informed consent criteria for abortions” (Tanne, 2021). The new abortion law makes it a felony for medical practitioners who provide such pharmaceuticals to fail to comply with particular reporting requirements or face up to two years in prison and a $10,000 fine (Tanne, 2021). Following the arguments raised against the new law and analyzing its landscape, the law should be abolished.
The Texas new abortion law shifts the landscape on abortion in regards to human rights, legal procedures, and fundamental laws such as the Roe V. Wade landmark case. First, every citizen has a right to decide on their bodies’ conditions. In medical practice, every person with a capacity to consent is required to agree to treatment, having been provided with all necessary information for informed judgment. The anti-abortion law hinders this right by implying that women no longer have control over their bodies. It denies them the legal right to choose to save their lives by terminating pregnancies. Since human rights ought to be preserved at all times, the new law should be abolished. Second, the new law has significantly impacted the operations and lines of work of legal entities. According to legal experts, the Texas legislature seems to have introduced a judicial loophole through the constitutionally questionable Bills (Tanne, 2021). Traditionally, the legislature has sole rights to enforce laws and handle defaulters.
In this case, the judicial system outsourced its powers to private citizens by giving them legal authority and financial support to sue any violators of the new law. Although this technique can be seen as a minor step towards policy enforcement applicable to Texas only, other regions may emulate this example, leading to a global shift in judicial operations. Third, the Roe V. Wade landmark case will lose its application under the new law. The Supreme Court legalized abortion in the United States in the historic case Roe v Wade, holding that women had an unrestricted civil right to the practice during their first trimester (Tanne, 2021). The new abortion law demonstrates how legal entities can overrule established laws without considering the principle by which such original laws were established, and therefore the Texas new abortion law should be abolished.
Several options are available to the Texas legislature, the judicial system, and relevant stakeholders to address the issues raised by the new law. One, since the law is passed in Texas and applies to the residents therein, abortions can be procured in other states. Two, specific allocations should be made to accommodate serious medical conditions that require abortions for preserving mothers’ lives. Three, all stakeholders should come together and seek a stand that will benefit all sides. Again, judges should wait for a ruling from a higher court and avoid destroying the image and relevance of the Texas judicial system (Tanne, 2021). As of now, the new law has posed serious challenges to the legal process and human rights in Texas. The three options above will help the public, the Texas legislature, and attorneys to establish some levels of understanding that will possibly limit the negative implications of the new abortion law.
The abortion law needs to be evaluated from different perspectives and solutions found to the serious consequences that are already evident in Texas. A multi-dimensional approach could be used, which involves combining the input from various parties for a better understanding of the problem (Barton et al., 2017). Again, the Texas government should carefully re-align its priorities to assess whether the new law hinders or facilitates its key objectives. If saving lives is the key driver to the enactment of the Bill, then the legislature should conduct a cost-benefit analysis and determine whether the law leads to more losses or gains to human life.
In addition, the government should benchmark in other major states to understand why and how abortion has been handled. In the process, they may find more convenient methods of handling the problem without interfering with women’s right to make decisions over their bodies (Barton et al., 2017). Just as the judicial system gave private citizens power to enforce the new law, it can give women the power to decide whether to abort or not and in the process save women’s and children’s lives. Lastly, since the law directly affects women, the Texas government should seek to understand their opinions and follow the logic in the complaints lodged against the new law.
Barton, K., Redshaw, M., Quigley, M., & Carson, C. (2017). Unplanned pregnancy and subsequent psychological distress in partnered women: A cross-sectional study of the role of relationship quality and wider social support. BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth, 17(1).
Tanne, J. (2021). Texas’s new abortion law is an attack on medical practice and women’s rights, say doctors. BMJ, n2176.