In case you haven’t heard, because maybe you’ve been living inside a cave to hide from the COVIDiots, Texas’ SB 8 law came into effect this week which effectively criminalizes abortion after 6 weeks, and enables private citizens to become bounty hunters for women who seek an abortion after the time limit.
Disappointingly, the US Supreme Court has refused to hear an emergency appeal by an abortion provider, allowing the law to come into full effect and effectively gutting the Roe v Wade standard that was set nearly 50 years ago. If the law stands, and women are punished for seeking abortions after 6 weeks, this will substantively change the legal landscape of the United States with respect to abortions.
But what does this law actually mean for women of Texas, and other conservative states where this law will likely be replicated? In part it depends on who you are and what means you have available to you.
For women that have the financial means they will simply travel out of state to have the procedure done. Perhaps they take a short vacation off to California, or some other state, where such draconian restrictions on abortions are not applied. For those who have the means this will, at worst, be a minor inconvenience. Don’t be surprised if conservative politicians send their mistresses off to Europe for a vacation when an accident happens.
But what about those without the financial means to get out of the state to get what they need? Most likely they will turn to the black market, or to some kinds of unsafe home procedures. These are the women who will be most impacted by this new law. They will be forced to use unsafe methods of terminating their pregnancies. The major problem with this law is that it does nothing to deal with the root cause of the situation – women who get pregnant when they do not want to be.
The law also makes no exceptions for rape, a particular omission that seems to only further punish women who have already been violated. Worse yet is that a woman who is raped and has an abortion could, at least in theory, be sued by the rapist for aborting the fetus that he forced a woman to carry.
At the end of the day we’re still going to see women getting pregnant, who do not wish to be, and will be forced to give birth against their will. Ultimately, the hyper conservative politicians who endorse this bill don’t really care about reducing demand for abortions, they just want to look like the tough guys who are putting their foot down on some undesirable behavior. If they did want to reduce abortions they could make policies that help reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies, but that’s just not the socially conservative way.
When I look at what Texas has done all I see is a bill that appeals to their base to remind them that there are women who are having sex when they don’t want children (apparently a faux pas among some social conservatives.) These politicians could have enacted laws that actually reduce abortions by reducing demand. That would mean doing things like: Increasing the quality of sex education. Increasing the availability of LARCs. Providing free contraception to women of child bearing age. We know that these things work, and we know that prohibition does not. We know that the war on drugs has failed. The war on alcohol failed. The war on women’s reproductive rights will also inevitably fail, but that could take years, during which time who knows how many women will suffer the consequences of bad policy. It really is a sad time for Texas and other socially conservative states.
As a final note, while I don’t want to sound like a fear-monger, I wouldn’t be surprised if, in the near future, Republicans start to work on making commonly used methods of birth control much harder to acquire, either by attacking insurance coverage, or by making the products less available. They’ve already made their marks on abortion and the war on women’s reproductive rights shows no signs of end in the US. The polarization of the United States continues.