Overnight, the terrible news has emerged that a near-total ban on abortion has come into effect in Texas, after the Supreme Court failed to block the new law which prohibits abortion after six weeks and offers no exceptions for rape or incest. In a further blow to people's rights over their own bodies, private citizens in Texas are now allowed to sue an abortion provider who violates the law.
Other US states have passed similar so-called “heartbeat” bills, named in reference of the anti-abortion view that once a foetus' heartbeat is detected at around six weeks, it has an undisputed right to life. However previous bills have all been blocked by the courts.
In a late night vote, Supreme Court Justices (including three appointed by Donald Trump) ruled against blocking the bill from passing into law, which will now prevent the majority of Texas women (85%) from accessing abortion care, as most aren’t aware they are pregnant as early as six weeks.
The news has sent shockwaves around the US and the wider world. Former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton wrote on Twitter:
"Under the cover of darkness, by choosing to do nothing, the Supreme Court allowed an unconstitutional abortion ban in Texas to go into effect last night. Their decision doesn’t change the fact that reproductive rights are human rights. We'll fight for them."
And that fighting has begun, with social media outcries, physical protests and - perhaps surprisingly - a barrage of Shrek memes on TikTok. Let us explain.
Around the end of July, a group of anti-abortion hardliners called Texas Right to Life started an anonymous tip line webite 'ProLifeWhistleBlower.com' allowing those with extreme views to report anyone they suspect may be trying to have or help someone have an abortion.
It's chilling stuff, straight from the pages of a dystopian novel, and many people online are doing the best they can to render the 'whistle blowing' site useless.
The website was widely shared by pro-abortion activists and soon people began spamming it with messages to snow under anything else more harmful. There are reports that the site was "flooded" with Shrek memes.
One TikTok user posted a video of their Shrek meme spamming, and hundreds of thousands of people have liked it, while on Reddit, users are discussing how to similarly block the webpage.
Of course, it shouldn't come down to TikTokers and their memes to protect the safety of folks trying access abortions without fear and judgement. But it's heartening to see the people of the internet doing what they can to push back against the frightening new law now facing women in Texas.
The fight for our right to choose what happens to our bodies is, clearly, far from being over. We stand in solidarity with those working for safe, accessible abortions for all.
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