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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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One step away
June 8, 2024

Texas politicians have no heart

Photo by Creative Commons

Opinion writer Kaelin Connor addresses Greg Abbott’s “Heartbeat Bill” in her latest column and argues the bill will only do more harm than good.

Conception begins two weeks prior to the last day of a women’s menstrual period. The start of pregnancy begins on that last day of her period, more commonly referred to as gestational age. On average, fertilization occurs about two weeks after a woman’s last menstrual cycle. Three weeks after conception, clumps of cells group together into a ball distinguishing what is called an embryo. What is coined as a “fetal heartbeat” really is the sound of electrical activity stemming from the embryo’s nerves heard by ultrasound machines. It isn’t until eight weeks into the pregnancy that doctors categorize it as a fetus. 

On Sept. 1, Texas lawmakers enacted one of the most restrictive abortion bills seen since Roe v. Wade established abortion rights 48 years ago. The premise: barring women from receiving an abortion after six weeks, or when the “fetal heartbeat” is first detected. 

A 2017 study published in the Maternal and Child Health Journal found that, on average, most women discover they are pregnant at 5.5 weeks gestation. Meaning, with this bill now in full throttle, most women who plan to receive an abortion would have about three to four days to get one before the abortion providers, or anyone who helped her obtain the abortion can be held liable. 

Gov. Greg Abbott signed the bill into law surrounded by only eight women and far too many white men to count. The lack of representation isn’t just this instance but across the board, literally. White men hold 61 percent of the Texas Legislature and only 27 percent are women. Men making women’s decisions isn’t new. In a press conference, Abbott avoided the question of why incest and rape aren’t exceptions to the Heartbeat Bill. His response: “Rape is a crime, and Texas will work tirelessly to make sure we eliminate all rapists from the streets of Texas by aggressively going out and arresting them and prosecuting them and getting them off the streets. So goal No. 1 in the state of Texas is to eliminate rape so that no woman, no person, will be a victim of rape.” 

Now that’s just dandy, but with what initiative?

Only supporting rape and incest in cases of abortion reinforces the concept that women only have a right to their body after someone violates it. In 2019, there were almost 15,000 rapes reported in Texas, with only 2,200 convictions. Eighty percent of rapes and sexual assaults go unreported, so statistically, 15,000 is more like 75,000 rapes, and that’s on the lower end. There’s no plan in mind to eliminate rape. Women may not be believed if they even file a report. Instead, they leave with questions of, “What were you wearing,” “How much did you drink,” and “Did you say no?”

However, this exclusion in the bill isn’t the only red flag. 

On May 18, one day before Abbott signed this anti-women bill, he tweeted, “Texans, not [government], should decide their best health practices.” This was in regard to mask mandates. It’s amazing how easy it is to distinguish the priority between Texans’ rights and Texas women’s rights.

Now, the main argument for this is that an unborn fetus carries its own rights. Or as  Abbott has put it, “Our creator endowed us with the right to life, and yet millions of children lose their right to life every year because of abortion.” The main point sticking out is his mention of “our creator.” The constitution clearly states the separation of church and state. If it’s a moral issue, don’t get an abortion, but don’t let personal religious beliefs dictate the lives of millions of Texans. It’s unconstitutional. 

The heart of this bill, or lack thereof, isn’t about saving the lives of unborn fetuses. If it were, there would be far fewer children in foster care, fewer women without prenatal resources and much less medieval sex education across the state. In fact, the beat of it is to dictate women’s bodies. If it weren’t, there would be an equal amount of passion shared by Texas politicians for fetuses, born infants and children. But there’s not. 

On top of all of this, Texas lawmakers strategically implemented the power of enforcement over to private citizens, not the law. So anyone aiding a friend or loved one who desires an abortion will have to carry around the fear that anyone in the country could sue them. 

This was a very strategic move on Texas lawmakers’ part. The integrity of the bill relies on snitches.

Planned Parenthood can’t directly sue Texas because the state legally cannot enforce it. Instead, Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers are sitting ducks waiting to be sued. But that’s the point. Abortion providers close down to avoid colossal monetary losses, and women lose what little access they have left to their constitutional rights.

This bill is a direct offense of constitutional standing, and the Department of Justice sued Texas because of it. While it’s unknown who will prevail in the courts, one thing is for sure: Don’t mess with Texan women’s rights. 

Kaelin Connor is a senior psychology major and an opinion writer for the Battalion. 

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