Texas A&M student organizations representing both sides of the abortion debate criticized Texas’ new “heartbeat bill,” the country’s most restrictive abortion ban beginning Sept. 1.
The Texas Heartbeat Act, signed into law by Gov. Greg Abbott on May 19, prohibits abortions once a “fetal heartbeat” can be detected, a point that can reach six weeks of gestation. before most women know they are pregnant. . Two Texas A&M student organizations, Pro-Life Aggies and Feminists for Reproductive Equity and Education, or GRATU, T, offer resources and support services for reproductive health and education, although each d ‘they are on opposite sides of the political question.
On one side of the fence, Pro-Life Aggies is a nonpartisan, secular organization focused on promoting pro-life positions, said Tucker Hall, communications officer and Pro-Life Aggies officer. The organization does this by promoting the public and providing resources to students who are expecting or raising children, such as scholarship money or free babysitting services.
“Our big aspect is just educating and supporting people who have chosen life and trying to help people balance those responsibilities,” Hall said. “I believe in providing as many resources as possible to try to help [abortion] not the decision that has to happen. “
On the other hand, FREE’s stated goal is to educate the community about reproductive justice and health, said Nimisha Srikanth, a public health officer and FREE official. FREE hosts resource resources for abortion funds, promotional campaigns and educational events on various related topics, he said.
“We create an environment where everyone has access to make decisions that are best for their lives,” Srikanth said. “We also talk about a lot of issues like environmental, immigrant and linguistic justice, because a lot of things are very intersectional.”
Texas Heartbeat Act has a myriad of intersectional effects, Srikanth said.
Eight days after Senate Bill 8, or SB8, came into force, U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland filed a Department of Justice lawsuit against the state of Texas on Sept. 9, which will question the validity of the law against the rights to privacy established in the courts. cases like Roe v. Wade, according to the lawsuit.
“Texas was enacted openly defying the Constitution,” the lawsuit says. “It is an established constitutional law that” a state cannot prohibit any woman from making the final decision to terminate a pregnancy before it is viable. “
Hall said he disagrees.
“I don’t consider it unconstitutional,” Hall said. “In my view, Roe v. Wade is quite unconstitutional because it doesn’t allow people to have their right to life, which is one of our rights. But it’s also not a complete turn of Roe v. Wade.”
According to the SB8 text, the new law will only be enforced through “private civil actions”. The law does not initiate any criminal proceedings, unlike the laws enacted by Roe v. Wade. Salem Smith, a junior and FREE sciencesT officer in materials science and engineering, said this could convince private citizens to take advantage of a pregnant woman’s situation.
“It makes any advocate or advocate for abortion rights prosecuted by private citizens for a reward of up to $ 10,000,” Smith said. “This only encourages people to negatively damage their communities and the most vulnerable populations in those communities. Anyone can become a watchman. “
It is unclear what conduct may actually qualify someone to be held liable under the law, Smith said.
“Anyone … can take civil action against anyone who performs or causes an abortion … [or] it is consciously engaged in conduct that aids or incites in performing or inciting an abortion, “the law says,” Regardless of whether the person knew or should have known that the abortion would be performed. “
Although Pro-Life Aggies has not made any official statement on the Heartbeat Act, Hall said most members support it.
“While it’s one of the strictest abortion bans in the United States to date, I think life begins at conception,” Hall said. “So I love any step forward taken by a more pro-life world. One thing the law says is that women are not penalized and I’m all for that. Sometimes I think these people can be so victims. as a child, it’s a very tough decision. “
II. Reproductive autonomy
Srikanth said the law still puts a “huge” population at risk.
“It simply came to our notice then [Black, indigenous and people of color], working people and people who can’t really afford to have another child will no longer have access to a legal and safe abortion, “Srikanth said.” Obviously, they can still get it out of Texas, but traveling, with the costs of disconnecting from work, will become a very expensive process.This basically prohibits abortion in the state for those who cannot afford it, which is a serious attack on people’s reproductive rights and [equal opportunity]”.
In addition, the average person will not realize that she has missed a period until four weeks have passed in the menstrual cycle, said Srikanth, who only leaves two weeks, or sometimes a few days, to have an abortion before a miscarriage can occur. fetal “heartbeat”. detected by law.
“This bill is extremely unconstitutional because in Roe v. Wade it says there can be no reasonable attempt to ban abortion or make it completely inaccessible, which makes this bill,” Smith said.
Experts and advocates have begun to argue in recent years that banning abortion by legal means does not decrease the actual number of abortions performed, but makes the procedure more dangerous.
“One of the cases that is often reported in Texas is that of Rosie Jimenez, who died from an unsafe abortion after she was denied access to Texas because of restrictive laws,” Smith said. “[FREE is] plans to hold a protest in October the date of his death to honor people who have died from unsafe abortions. “
Some methods that are increasingly used for out-of-clinic abortions include “Plan C,” one of the many online providers of the two pills, Mifepristone and Misoprostol, that are used in “drug abortions.” contemporaries, according to the Plan C website.
“It’s largely an independent process, while someone may want to have a doctor monitor them and make sure the process is fully and successfully developed,” Srikanth said. “Therefore, abortions will always happen. It is unfortunate that it is not so safe and that it will no longer be legal.
Hall agreed that there is a possibility of unsafe abortions, but argued that it is overwhelming that many people will make that decision.
“I think with [this] legislation, we will greatly reduce the number of lives lost, ”said Hall. “And I also think there are important things, not just to fight [unsafe abortions] but supporting the people who are thinking about these options is the education and resources we need to continue to focus on. ”
Hall said many people are unaware of the options they have other than abortion, such as adoption.
“People talk about how bad the adoption system is, but that’s mostly for people who are older kids, teens, and things like that,” Hall said. “However, there are waiting lists for babies like newborns. Adoption is much easier than people think when it comes to a newborn baby. I don’t think an innocent life should be punished for the actions of an evil person. They are separate people. “
Adoption requires bringing a child fully out, but that is not an option for many people, Srikanth said.
“You might realize nine weeks from being pregnant that carrying this baby out could mean she can bleed and die, even though Texas won’t allow her to have an abortion,” Srikanth said.
On the other hand, a long-term pregnancy does not have to risk your life to be traumatic, expensive and unwanted, Srikanth said. Unlike pro-life legislation in past years, the Heartbeat Act has no exceptions for pregnancies caused by rape and incest, Smith said.
“You might realize eight weeks after pregnancy that the fetus you are carrying is not viable and will be born dead when you die,” Srikanth said. “You could be raped and seven weeks pregnant and Texas would not allow you to have an abortion [under this law] and I would persecute those who help you more than your rapist ”.
III. Community resources
On the subject of contraception and other remedies, the two groups may not completely disagree. For those on campus, FREE has a sexual health resource distribution service, Srikanth said.
“On our Instagram we have a Linktree and there is an app where you can fill out if you need, for example, condoms, lubricants, Plan-B or a pregnancy test, depending on our availability and our supplies,” Srikanth said.
Pro-Life Aggies, unlike some other pro-life groups, does not oppose contraceptives to prevent pregnancy and therefore prevent abortions. The group’s official statement is that life begins from conception, Hall said.
For those who are pregnant, Pro-Life Aggies connects people with pregnancy centers in the area, such as the Hope Pregnancy Center in the Brazos Valley.
“A lot of people say we only care about childbirth before and then we don’t care about the baby, which is why a big part of our organization has focused on supporting the mother after birth and showing that we are going to support you. during all this, with the necessary resources, “Hall said.
Despite their different worldviews, both organizations affirm their support for community parents after the delivery room.
“Reproductive justice is not just the ability to control your reproductive and sexual health,” Srikanth said. “It’s really anything that allows a person to raise a child, give birth and start a family on their own, even if they define it and want it.”