On March 30, the Texas Senate approved seven bills restricting abortion access, one of which bars abortions before many women realize they’re pregnant. Another bill, Senate Bill 8, commonly known as the Heartbeat Bill, aims to ban abortions when a fetal heartbeat is detected.
Two things stand out about the bill.
First, there is an exception for medical emergencies but not for rape or incest. Second, it allows Texans to sue abortion providers regardless of whether they have any connection with those providers. Essentially, this will be the second set of Salem witch trials, except now with minimum fines of $10,000 and potentially lifelong prison sentences. Meanwhile, the maximum punishment for sexual assault is $10,000 and twenty years in prison.
That is not pro-life at all.
Being pro-life, at its core, is the belief that life begins at conception and ends with death. The pro-life movement, which has been around since the enactment of Roe v. Wade in 1973, was originally a Catholic movement but has since expanded to include other faiths that believe life is a “God-given” right. True, people are allowed to believe whatever they please — but that comes with a “but.” It is incredibly important to separate faith from the government and its sessions.
Not every person believes what others do, so we cannot fall into the black hole of dictating people’s lives based on religious morals. But that is exactly what Mary Elizabeth Castle, Policy Advisor for Texas Values, is advocating for when she says, “[Senate Bill 8] demonstrates that Texans value life. It’s time to stand up for those who are unable to stand up for themselves.”
The interesting thing about this is the statement that “Texans value life.” Consider, for example, when Rep. Bryan Slaton proposed a bill that would deem abortion as murder and could potentially convict women with the death penalty.
Slaton’s bill isn’t about defending life; it’s about hurting women.
This contradictory “pro-life” legislation is more accurately 1called anti-choice legislation. Texas senators have made it honestly clear that abortion was never their pure motive. If it were, then Texan politicians would be concerning themselves with implementing policies to educate and assist women and their health. Simply criminalizing abortions will not solve the issue they claim to be advocating for. It will only make matters worse.
Indeed, while the argument has always been that such laws protect women’s reproductive health, research says otherwise. The maternal mortality rate in the U.S. grew 136 percent between 1990 and 2013. In South Carolina, there are 14 abortion restrictions, yet they have one of the worst outcomes for women’s health in the country. Compared to other developed nations, the U.S. has one of the worst maternal and infant mortality rates. On top of that, maternal mortality rates have risen 200 percent, according to a 2019 study. As for African American women, the data is even worse. Black women are three to four times more likely to have a maternal death than white women.
Restrictions on abortions doesn’t save lives, but it can destroy them.
Far too many women lack access to affordable health and child care, contraceptive education and paid maternity leave. If legislators were troubled about maternal and infant outcomes, there would be more focus on increasing the accessibility of family planning programs, improving the atrocious mortality rates, expanding Medicaid and prohibiting religious exemptions in regard to women’s reproductive health. Limiting or even banning abortions will accomplish nothing but more preventable deaths, both fetal and maternal.
America’s reproductive health is in critical condition, and barring women from accessible reproductive options isn’t how we save lives.
Pro-life policies, fundamentally, emphasize the right to our lives, but too many lives are being lost — not to abortion but to anti-choice legislation. If the goal is to diminish abortion rates, then we need amendments to our failing health care system. We need accessible sexual education and to destigmatize sex. We need nondiscriminatory reproductive health care. We need more prenatal programs and education.
What we don’t need is another ban on abortion.
Kaelin Connor is a psychology junior and opinion writer for The Battalion.