New abortion laws restricts women’s rights

A fetus is the same as a baby. At least, it is according to Texas lawmakers. Starting on Oct. 29, all abortions in Texas will become illegal after the fetus gestates for 20 weeks. Additionally, there will be stricter regulations placed on women’s health centers. Even though the arguments backing up this law are safety related, I highly disagree with the passage of this law (House Bill 2) this summer. This law is not backed by facts and misses the reality that women will still get abortions anyway.

One thing that I feel anti-abortion advocates are missing is that this law has no real factual evidence to back it up. It was promoted as if it would make abortions centers cleaner and ensure the presence of more qualified clinic workers, but the facts about safety violations in abortion centers in Texas just do not support that claim. According to The Texas Tribune, the majority of violations by women’s health clinics from 2008 to 2013 were more administrative — such as “[failure] to post their licensure numbers on their websites” — as opposed to health related. Yet, because of this new law, currently only six out of the 38 facilities that provide abortions in Texas can stay open (The Texas Tribune).

Getting an abortion is not an easy choice to make, and statistically it is not one made often. According to the Guttmacher Institute, “ [In 2008], 70 percent of pregnancies resulted in live births and 15 percent in induced abortions.” If a woman is going to make such a difficult and life-changing decision, a far away abortion center will not stop her. Therefore, more back-alley abortions will be performed. Obviously, using a coat hanger, drinking bleach, going to an unlicensed person in Mexico or trying to kill the fetus externally is much more dangerous than getting care and drugs from a medical professional. The idea that a woman would have to choose between her own safety and a difficult future that she does not desire is atrocious. In this land of the free in which we live, a woman should be able to decide her own fate and not have to risk her life.

This law may be advertised as promoting safer abortions for women, but I think there is an additional agenda behind it. It is no secret that many Republican “pro-lifers” support their stance with religious reasons. I have had friends say to me that an abortion would be wrong because “God wanted her to have that baby.” That is a completely valid opinion to have. However, the idea that we should be changing laws based on religious opinions completely violates one of the foundational ideas of our nation, the separation of church and state. If a person believes that it goes against her religion to get an abortion, that is completely fine. However, if a person does not have religious conflicts with abortion, her access to medical care should not be limited by things she does not believe. One course of action often mentioned by social conservatives is to go back to the way our founding fathers would have wanted things, and I am sure that the founding fathers of the United States would not be in support of ignoring one of the amendment to the constitution that mandates the separation of church and state, which was one of the major reasons we sought independence from England.

This law does not only affect women getting abortions, though; these centers that are closing down also provide birth control to women, perform pap smears and diagnose and help treat cervical and ovarian cancer, among other things. All of these services are vital to a woman’s health. Furthermore, birth control is not only used for preventing pregnancy; women also use it to regulate menstrual cycles, to make those cycles less painful and for Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) relief. Pap smears inform a woman about whether or not she has or may have breast cancer. There is absolutely no logical reason to shut down these centers when they do so much good.

Texas has not been a supporter of women’s rights in the past, with examples such as the horrifying law forcing women to get ultrasounds prior to an abortion and to watch the ultrasound or have it be described to them, whether the woman in question wants this procedure or not. As horrendous as this law is, the new law that has been passed, that severely decreases the number of Texas clinics that provide abortions, is one step too far. A woman’s body is her own, and a law that puts her safety in danger without valid health reasons behind it — a law which has its foundations in religion rather than justice — is a law that should not have been passed and should be repealed as soon as possible.