On May 19th, 2021, Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed into law the SB8 version of the fetal heartbeat bill. This bill will take act on September 1st, 2021, and bars women from an abortion procedure after 6 weeks of pregnancy. The bill does not provide exceptions for women who have been raped or involved in incest but does provide an exception for those with a medical emergency.
It allows for anyone to sue abortion clinics for performing the procedure after the six-week period. Anyone in the public sector, who may not even be involved, now has the ability to intervene on a woman’s personal choice and punish them and the clinic for it.
During the bill signing ceremony, Abbott was quoted to say: “Our creator endowed us with the right to life and yet millions of children lose their right to life every year because of abortion”.
Interesting. Let’s unpack this. Greg Abbott, an identified male, has politically decided to perform an act of service to God by banning women the choice over their own bodies. Abbot’s personal religious beliefs have now become part of his political beliefs: this alone is problematic. By intertwining the church with state, the independence of religious freedom in America is somewhat confined to the Christian belief system.
No longer are the other religions practiced in America given the same importance and equality as Christianity—if the politicians are basing their decisions on their chosen spirituality, who’s representing the religions that are not in court?
Does this not further support the basis of hierarchy and systematic oppression in America that is supposed to be dismantled and avoided?
But that’s beside the case.
What’s more concerning than Abbott’s religious affiliation to politics is his confirmed misunderstanding of a woman’s perspective and scientific ability to become pregnant. The menstrual cycle in a women’s body allows them to be fertile for about 6 days of a month (during their ovulation period). However, males are fertile every day of the month for every day of the year. But seeing as women actually grow the fetus, contraceptives and birth controls are almost entirely geared for women (excluding the male condom). Is that not concerning? Even though women are genetically far less able to be fertile they are still responsible for the prevention and care for a growing fetus and child. Even though males are able to produce thousands of sperm every day, women are liable for the ONE egg that may be inflicted by sperm.
Let’s say a woman’s singular egg is met by one of the thousands of sperm. She is now pregnant but has no idea. She most likely won’t know until she has completed a full cycle of her menstruation, which is approximately four weeks.
Hypothetically, this does not allocate a woman any time for “late” days of her period, she would have to be tested immediately to find out her pregnancy (which is an incredibly unlikely situation). She now has two weeks to figure out and make the decision to terminate the pregnancy or to keep it. In this decision, she has to include many factors such as: financial stability, employment stability, housing stability, childcare, medical bills, school bills, emotional stability of the parents/caregivers, her current career goals, her current education, if she is able to get into a clinic for an abortion, as well as so many other major factors that take people years to figure out.
That makes this six-week period pretty unrealistic. This bill does not make abortion impossible, but pretty damn close.
Now let’s talk science. A fetus is not considered a fetus until the 9th week, prior to that it is considered to be an embryo. An embryo (defined by good old Wikipedia) is a collection of cells that have been produced sexually and is in its early stages of development to become a matured organism. Science experts say that the embryo may have a detectable heartbeat by six weeks, and can only be seen by advanced vaginal ultrasound. The notion that a possible detectable heartbeat is reason enough for anti-abortionists to believe that it is a human lifeform, rather than a mass number of cells. But if a possible heartbeat is not when an embryo is considered to be a fetus, is it reasonable for it to be considered a loss of life if it is not identified as a human? Something to think about.
Out of all that, what seems to be the most troubling aspect of this law is that a man signed it. A man. A man who has never experience this discomfort and responsibility of a menstruation cycle has made this decision. A man who will never experience the pain of birth has made this decision. A man who has never faced any type of invasive birth control has made this decision. A man who will never know what entails the responsibility of being a woman has made this decision because he believes he knows what’s best. He will never be a woman who has been raped. He will never be a woman who has been faced with incest. He will never be a woman who has life aspirations outside of children, or a woman who is not ready to bring a child into this world and care for it. It is not a joke: a child is a life form that needs care 24/7 and cannot be taken for granted.
If your personal beliefs, whether that be religious or not, mean you decide to bear the responsibility of having a child, then that is your choice.
But women should not be sentenced to a life they did not want because a man decided it so.
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Gates MacPherson was born and raised in small town Thorold, Ontario. Knowing her home had given her the roots of knowledge but the wings to fly, she left Thorold at a ripe age of 16. When she flew the nest, she headed eastward to the beautiful state of Massachusetts to finish her high school career at The Williston Northampton School. Once she became acclimated to the area, she decided to settle at the sunny coastal school, Endicott College.
At school, Gates fills her time with her studies in English and Religious Studies, as well as with the Varsity Women’s Track and Field team. With her English degree, Gates hopes take the knowledge of the English language and head into the field of writing children’s books. After all, there’s nothing she believes to be more powerful than the mind of our future generation.
Gates has two rescue pups and her favorite band is Peach Pit.