On September 1st, 2021, a new abortion law went into effect in Texas. The legislation bans women from getting abortions after six weeks of pregnancy, when a fetal heartbeat can be detected. While these “heartbeat bills” have been introduced in other states, they have faced legal challenges that have so far prevented them from becoming law—until now. The Supreme Court declined to intervene or rule on the constitutionality of the Texas bill, which allowed it to take effect.
By the time a woman is six weeks pregnant, she is only two weeks late for her period. What does this mean now for the women of Texas? That most of them will not even know they’re pregnant by the time they lose their right to choose.
Along with the obvious violation of women’s rights and consequences of forcing a woman to carry an unwanted pregnancy to term, there are a number of other ripple effects that can be expected from the passing of the new law.
Other states will likely introduce similar abortion legislation.
The legal loophole that was the basis of the Supreme Court’s decision not to block the Texas heartbeat bill is that enforcement of the law is outsourced to private citizens. Technically, this means the government is not interfering with women’s abortion access. This precedent will likely serve as a green light for other states to enact comparable laws.
Georgia, Mississippi, Alabama, Iowa, Arkansas, Florida, and Missouri are just a few of the states that have tried to pass or expressed interested in implementing legislation similar to the Texas bill.
Vulnerable populations will be impacted more severely.
While Texas women can still travel to other states to seek abortions after six weeks, this is often not a feasible option for those who seek abortion the most. Women of color, minors, and low-income earners will disproportionately have their abortion rights and access restricted. These women typically do not have the resources (money, transportation, time) or ability to travel for the procedure.
Alternative reproductive technologies could potentially become more difficult to access.
Couples and women who face fertility issues often seek alterative treatments to help with conception. In vitro fertilization (IVF) is one of the most common and effective of those technologies; it may also be impacted by restrictive abortion laws like the one in Texas. IVF involves fertilizing an egg in a lab. The resulting embryos can either be implanted into the donating woman’s uterus, frozen for later use, donated to other women, used for stem cell research, or destroyed.
If laws go into effect that establish that life begins at conception, this can eventually restrict what can be done with IVF embryos. Women may be forced to carry multiple embryos if fertilized, for example, or advances in medicine resulting from stem cell research may be stunted. The possible effects of the legislation on such reproductive technology could very well be devastating.
At South Avenue Women’s Services, we will always believe in a woman’s right to safe and effective abortion care and strive to provide it. If you are seeking more information about or considering abortion as an option, please reach out to our team today. Our caring and professional providers will answer your questions and, if you should choose, help you arrange for a safe and confidential procedure.
Call us today at 585-271-3850 for more information about our abortion and other women’s health services.