On Sept. 1, the Texas Heartbeat Act went into effect, making it possible to sue anyone that performs or has an abortion after a woman has been pregnant for more than six weeks. According to the bill, a physician may not perform an abortion on a pregnant woman unless they have confirmed that the unborn child does not have a detectable fetal heart beat. The detectable “heartbeat” does not include only the development of a heartbeat at the six week gestational age, as there is no heart developed yet. Rather, it accounts for the electrical activity of developing cells that occur around this stage in the pregnancy. The sole exemption is in the case of a “medical emergency”, which is undefined. According to journalist for the New York Times, Maggie Astor, “Abortion providers in Texas acknowledged that 85 to 90 percent of the procedures they previously conducted were after the six-week mark.” Most women are unaware that they are pregnant at this time. This has sparked concerns regarding the impact the act will have on women as a whole and those who have been victims of rape or incest. Additionally, it has spurred a moral debate between those who wish to decide what to do with their bodies, and those who believe that life begins at conception.
Due to the immediate effects this new act may have on women and those with uteruses, female staff and students at San Marin have shared their opinions and worries about it.
“They’re not taking into account women who have been victims of sexual assault or rape… there’s just a real blind eye being turned to these women,” sophomore Noela De Frenza said.
Senior Sydney Martinez echoed similar beliefs with the abortion ban controversy leading to frustrations as women feel that these restrictions will wrongly criminalize them.
“The fact that [Texas lawmakers] want to control our bodies in a way that could criminalize women for making a decision about themselves is enraging and very offensive,” Martinez said. “The majority of people who want to ban abortions and take away our rights are men.”
Martinez believes that because men will not be directly affected by the law, women should be the only ones creating legislation on this topic.
In regards to demographics, Texas has one of the lowest percentages of female legislators in the US, ranking in the bottom 15. Some of America’s bluests states have the highest percentage of women lawmakers, including Arizona, Oregon, and Colorado. There are growing concerns that more of Texas’ male dominated conservative neighbors will pick up on this law. Nearby states including Mississippi and Ohio have already picked up a similar ban. At the time of writing, two cities in Ohio Mason and Lebanon, have passed an even more draconian law, prohibiting every and all abortions. It’s possible more Ohioan cities will follow this lead. Math teacher Shannon Zorn is worried about this statistic.
“I think nearby states with similar politics might follow suit with these abortion laws,” Zorn said. “Hopefully, if they do, they’ll be a little less strict; most women don’t even know they’ve missed a period until those four weeks have passed.”
Along with Zorn, Health teacher, Cory Boyd believes a more providing and comprehensive sex education would answer questions regarding women’s support through unexpected pregnancies.
“More access to sexual health products, like various forms of safe and legal birth control, condoms, and increased levels of health care service so that [the decision to have an aboriton] doesn’t need to be made in the first place would be good,” Boyd said. “[We] need to see the quality of healthcare for women who carry out these pregnancies, to provide free head start kindergarten programs and food programs… for parents who suddenly find themselves pregnant and currently I’m not seeing that.”