New abortion laws in the state of Texas have been branded 'cruel' by activists and protesters, as legislation now dictates a pregnancy cannot be terminated after six weeks – before many women even know that they're pregnant. Pro-lifers claim that six weeks is the developmental stage at which a foetus' heartbeat can be detected, however this is something contested by experts. No exceptions are to be made in cases of rape or incest.
The change in rules also sees private citizens encouraged to report clinics and medical professionals thought to be offering terminations beyond the 6-week mark – an anonymous 'tip off' line has even been created.
The law, which is now one of the most restrictive in the United States, took hold this week as the Supreme Court didn't respond to an emergency appeal launched by abortion providers hoping to block the change in legislation. Highlighting its devastating impact, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) said it estimates that 90% of all abortions in Texas happen after 6 weeks of pregnancy.
Speaking about the changes, Amanda Williams, executive director of the abortion support group the Lilith Fund, a plaintiff in the suit that challenged the law, expressed her disappointment at the news.
"Abortion access will be thrown into absolute chaos," she said, as reported by The Guardian. "Unfortunately, many people who need access the most will slip through the cracks, as we have seen over the years with the relentless attacks here in our state. It is unbelievable that Texas politicians have gotten away with this devastating and cruel law that will harm so many."
The decision has sparked backlash around the world too, with many taking to social media to air their thoughts and reference studies which show that making abortions more difficult to access won't necessarily see a drop in the number of terminations carried out, only the number carried out safely. One research project by the Guttmacher Institute even found the abortion rate is actually higher in countries that restrict abortion access, than in those that do not.
Alexis McGill Johnson, the President of Planned Parenthood Action Fund, tweeted reminding American women that the Planned Parenthood centres are still accessible and on-hand to offer support. She branded the new law as 'dangerous' and pledged to continuing fighting against it.
"To be clear: Planned Parenthood health centers remain open, and we are here to help Texans navigate this dangerous law," McGill Johnson's tweet reads. "We will continue to fight in the courts for abortion rights and access."
A UK-based Twitter user pointed out that the decision is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the way women are viewed around the world too.
the rollback of abortion rights in Texas is not just a USA issue. it perpetuates a global culture that still does not value the lives & bodily autonomy of women and pregnant people. my heart is breaking for the many lives that will be lost as a result of this inhuman legislation.
— 𝚊 𝚐𝚕𝚊𝚜𝚐𝚘𝚠 𝚜𝚎𝚕𝚔𝚒𝚎 🦭 (@JennyLConstable) September 2, 2021
"The rollback of abortion rights in Texas is not just a USA issue. It perpetuates a global culture that still does not value the lives and bodily autonomy of women and pregnant people," said Jenny Constable. "My heart is breaking for the many lives that will be lost as a result of this inhuman legislation. They know that people - including young girls - will die as a result of this decision, or will be pushed into poverty. They do not care."
British journalist Ash Sarkar questioned how many women, like those in earlier generations, would go on to have more children than they wanted, having now had their right to choose stripped back.
"How many of our grandmothers had more children than they wanted, or were in marriages that were the product of social coercion?" Sarkar writes. "Abortion is a right which, among others, confers the power to decide what kind of life you want to have."
She added, "The fact is that people talk about unwanted pregnancy as a 'consequence' of having sex because, fundamentally, they think that a woman having sex for the purpose of pleasure is something she should be punished for."
In contrast, others in favour of the law change tweeted their delight at the news.
"A huge victory in Texas for the unborn!!," said one. "No freedom is more precious than life itself," added Texas Governor Greg Abbott. "Starting today, every unborn child with a heartbeat will be protected from the ravages of abortion. Texas will always defend the right to life."
We're standing in solidarity with all those protesting against the new Texas abortion law.
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