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Ethics & Religion
Column #2,091
Sept. 8, 2021
Texas Abortion Law - A Disaster
By Mike McManus

Texas has passed the most restrictive abortion law in the country - one that bans abortions, with no exceptions for rape or incest, as early as the sixth week in a pregnancy.

The law also empowers citizens to sue those who perform an abortion or anyone who "aids and abets" the procedure. Citizens who sue successfully can receive $10,000!

In a 5-4 vote, the U.S. Supreme Court allowed the law to take effect, virtually shutting down access to legal abortions in Texas. When the abortion bill passed the Texas House and Senate, not a single Republican opposed it. One House Democrat and one Senate Democrat joined the GOP majorities.

The implications for midterm elections in 2022 could be decisive. The threat to abortion rights could motivate abortion rights supporters to turn out in higher numbers.

Facebook's chief operating officer, Sheryl Sandberg, quickly took to Instagram this week to denounce the law, writing that it "will hurt women. And it will hurt families. And it will not end abortion. It will end safe abortion. We cannot go back to the days when women suffered and died because abortion was illegal and dangerous."

If allowed to remain in force, the law would be the strictest law against abortion rights since the high court's landmark 1973 decision, Roe V. Wade.

The Texas law, signed by Republican Gov. Greg Abbott in May, prohibits abortions once medical professionals can detect the baby's cardiac activity, usually around six weeks - and before most women know they are pregnant.

It is part of a broader push by Republicans across the country to impose new restrictions on abortion. At least 12 other states have enacted bans early in pregnancy, but all have been blocked from going into effect.

What makes the Texas law different is its unusual enforcement scheme.Rather than have officials responsible for enforcing the law - private citizens are authorized to sue abortion providers and anyone involved in facilitating abortions. That would include anyone who drives a woman to a clinic to get an abortion, for example. Under the law, anyone who successfully sues another person, would be entitled to at least $10,000.

"Starting today, every unborn child with a heartbeat will be protected from the ravages of abortion," Abbott said in a statement posted on Twitter. "Texas will always defend the right to life."

President Joe Biden said in a statement that the law "blatantly violates the constitutional right established under Roe v. Wade and upheld as a precedent for nearly a half century." He added that the law "outrageously" gives private citizens the power "to bring lawsuits against anyone they believe has helped another person get an abortion."

Likewise the American Medical Association said it was disturbed "by this egregious law" and disappointed by the Supreme Court's decision. AMA's President, Dr. Gerald Harmon, asserted the law "not only bans virtually all abortions in the state, but it interferes in the patient-physician relationship and places bounties on physicians and health care workers simply for delivering care."

Clinics have said the law would rule out 85% of abortions in Texas and force many clinics to close. Planned Parenthood is among the abortion providers that have stopped scheduling abortions beyond six weeks from conception.

Twenty-seven women were still in the waiting room after 10 p.m. in one clinic, leaving doctors crying and scrambling over whether they would see of them in time. The last abortion in one clinic finished at 11:56 p.m. in Fort Worth. Anti-abortion activists outside shined bright lights in the parking lot looking for wrongdoing and twice called the police.

Amy Hagstrom Miller, CEO of Whole Women's Health, said "This morning I awoke u[ feeling deep sadness. I'm worried. I'm numb."

Texas lawmakers are moving forward in an ongoing special session with proposed new restrictions on medication abortion, a method using pills that accounts for roughly 40% of abortions in the U.S.

Columnist David Von Drehle argues that "Coercion - whether by private lawsuits or discriminatory burdens - is not the only way to work against abortion. Opponents of abortion can engage in persuasion campaigns; they can promote contraception or sexual abstinence; they can encourage childbirth through better health care...quality day care and greater incentives for adoption."

I agree. There were 609,000 abortions in a recent year, but only 135,000 adoptions. The abortions could have been avoided by contraception or abstinence.

By contrast, the Texas law is draconian and dangerous to pregnant women and those helping them.

Copyright (c)2021 Michael J. McManus, a syndicated columnist and past president of Marriage Savers. To read past columns, go to Hit Search for any topic.


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