Fact Check: Texas Abortion Law Does Not Give 6 Full Weeks to Have an Abortion

Regarding the bill, a journalist asked, “Why force a rape or incest victim to carry out a pregnancy?” to which Abbott replied, “It does not require it at all, because it evidently provides at least 6 weeks for a person to have an abortion.”

Facts first: Abbott’s response is, at best, misleading. The stipulation of the law prohibiting abortions after six weeks does not necessarily mean six weeks after the incident, in the case of rape or incest victims. Doctors date pregnancies from the first day of the individual’s last menstrual cycle, not from ovulation or “conception”. As a result, under Texas new law, those seeking abortions have less than six weeks to do so.

Melaney Linton, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast, which operates six centers in the Greater Houston area, said in a statement: “Governor Abbott’s statements demonstrate once again why politicians who do not have a basic understanding of reproductive health have no legislative business on these critical issues.

Jennifer Kerns, an associate professor at the University of California at San Francisco and obstetrics, told CNN, “To say someone has six weeks to access abortion is completely misleading.”

“When we say six-week pregnant, that really means it’s six weeks of the last menstrual period,” Kerns clarified. “So it doesn’t really mean the person has been pregnant for six weeks.”

Abbott tried to warn his comments Tuesday earlier highlighting that “rape is a crime,” although the bill is no exception. According to SB8, the only possible exemption is for “medical emergencies”. Otherwise, abortion is prohibited when a fetal heartbeat is detected, although the blinking identified as a fetal heartbeat on an ultrasound at that time is really just electrical activity and the sound is produced by the same machine. ‘ultrasound. Even at six weeks, doctors say an ultrasound does not detect a functional heart. And it’s worth noting that fetal heartbeats that are used as abortion cuts in this bill often occur before people know you’re pregnant.

According to Linton, “people with regular menstrual cycles don’t even miss a period until they’re four weeks pregnant, which means they have a maximum of two weeks to get an abortion.”

However, Kerns noted that “a lot of women have irregular periods, a lot of women skip periods. So if we talk about a window essentially a week, and you’re one of those many unfortunate people whose periods they are not separated by 28 days, you could easily miss this time window to detect a pregnancy “.

New York Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez also backed Abbott’s comments, noting that people may miss periods for reasons other than pregnancy, including stress, which could make detection even more difficult. of a pregnancy and scheduling an abortion within six years. window of the week.

“Having six weeks of pregnancy means two weeks of delay for menstruation,” Ocasio-Cortez told CNN’s Anderson Cooper on Tuesday evening on “AC360”. “And a two-week delay in menstruation for anyone (anyone with a menstrual cycle) can happen if you’re stressed, if your diet changes, or really for no reason. So you don’t have six weeks.”

Beyond the biological limitations of time, victims of rape and incest have to contend with other factors that could further reduce their window within which abortion can take place.

Dr. Bhavik Kumar, a doctor at the Center for Planned Family Choice in Houston, said in a statement: “Survivors of rape and incest would be forced to face trauma and potentially to decide to end the pregnancy resulting in the few days of the assault Governor Abbott’s comments on rapes and rapists are insensitive, uninformed and out of touch with the reality of survivors’ experiences. “

For rape or incest victims, Linton said the condensed timeline according to SB8 means they have “a few days to know they are pregnant, make a decision, find a provider, make an appointment and secure financial and logistical resources.” all while dealing with the trauma of being attacked. “

Even those wishing to have an abortion and qualify for the new law may not have the procedure within the window given other barriers to access, such as the cost and the mandatory 24-hour waiting period. the state. The waiting period can be waived if the person seeking the abortion lives at least 100 miles away from the nearest abortion provider, which is a possibility given the limited number of abortion centers in the state.

“Texas is a geographically large state, with very few abortion providers. And many people in Texas already live far away from an abortion provider,” Kerns said. “So when we talk about a week, for people living in big cities, it may not seem like a short time, but for people who have to travel 300, 400 miles to get an abortion and that they can begin to understand how heavy this is. ”

Credit – https://www.cnn.com/2021/09/09/politics/abbott-abortion-fact-check/index.html