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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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The BattalionMay 4, 2024

The Heartbeat Bill isn’t pro-life

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Opinion writer Kaelin Connor discusses the inconsistent stance of Texas legislature on the topic of abortion and pro-life. 

Editor’s Note: This article contains information about child sexual assault that may be upsetting to some readers.
One story that has stuck out within recent news is that of a 13-year-old girl who was raped and impregnated by her grandfather.
Due to the limited abortion options near her hometown and within the state of Texas, the girl and her mother were forced to travel across Texas to get an abortion. The Heartbeat Bill, if put into effect in September, would bar even this young girl from an abortion. Why?
Senate Bill 8 makes no exceptions for rape or incest.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said, “Our creator endowed us with the right to life and yet millions of children lose their right to life every year because of abortion.” His main argument is that abortion goes against “God’s” creation of life and denies thousands of children their right to live. Well, there are two problems with this comment.
One –– religion has no part in dictating any part of Texans’ lives. It isn’t fair to impose Christian values on those who aren’t of the faith. If it’s a moral issue, fine, but implementing a religious belief is unconstitutional. Our forefathers made this principle clear in the Bill of Rights. And two –– Abbott’s second argument is contradictory based on Texas’ lack of care for children outside of the womb. Texas shows no interest in the care for minority children or their mothers, let alone any child itself.
The Texas Department of Family and Protective Services reported 15,780 children in foster care as of April 2021. In San Antonio, for instance, the amount of foster care children without placements is spiraling. If Senate Bill 8 is implemented, the women who can’t afford to raise a child will resort to the state’s burgeoning childcare system. The system simply can’t handle the effects of banning abortions. With more pressure on the deteriorating system, taxpayers will take the heat to support thousands of displaced children.
If the Texas legislators’ goal is to reduce abortion rates, banning them isn’t an effective method. Women will still get abortions but at a risk. Restricting abortion access does not lower abortion rates but makes abortions more unsafe. In fact, in countries that have banned abortions, only one in four abortions is considered safe. Women face the possibility of an incomplete abortion, hemorrhage, infections and sometimes death. Restricting or banning abortion doesn’t achieve anything other than back alley botched procedures and preventable maternal deaths.
If lawmakers’ only priority is children, there should be subsidized child care, paid maternity leave and grants for single mothers. If the Heartbeat Bill bans abortions after six weeks, child support should start then, since Republicans consider that point the start of new life. If an illegal immigrant mother conceived her child on U.S. soil, then the six-week mark considers the child an American citizen. If a six-week old fetus is a whole person and a mother insures her child and miscarries, she should be able to collect. By determining the existence of life we need to treat it as such. By only stating six weeks as the start of life but not including fetuses in other categories that a born infant would qualify for would be deceitful. If we’re claiming it’s a human then it deserves human rights. If there are any discrepancies with these suggestions then we need to reevaluate how pro-life of a state we claim to be.
Restricting or banning abortion is not a responsible decision. Implementing policies and legislation that benefit both mother and child is, however.

To start lowering abortion rates and unplanned pregnancies, children need to be taught comprehensive sex education, not just abstinence. A Columbia study found that abstinence-only education does not delay sexual initiation and instead inflates the risks of “[withholding] medically accurate information, [stigmatizing] or [excluding] many youths, [reinforcing] harmful gender stereotypes and [undermining] public health pro- grams.” America’s youth deserves and should know the risks and information surrounding sex so that all are aware of their options. Abstinence teachings only set the youth up for unplanned pregnancies and many other risks. A study investigating the correlation between abstinence-only education and teen pregnancy found significant differences in state’s reported rates of teen pregnancy and the type of sexual education curriculum. Specifically, states which taught comprehensive sex education saw fewer teen pregnancies than states teaching abstinence-only or no type of sex education at all. In fact, the study found that states with abstinence-only curriculum do not reduce teen abstinence behavior and are, in fact, more likely to experience more teen pregnancies.
Another nail to drive is the importance of affordable access to birth control. For instance, an uninsured intrauterine device, or IUD, out of pocket costs $1,300. Birth control pills can cost anywhere up to $50 out of pocket. The stigmatization surrounding contraceptives alone are enough to discourage women from seeking preventive methods, but so is the price and accessibility. Almost half of U.S. pregnancies are unplanned. If birth control was available at free or even reduced costs, abortion rates would decrease.
Texas cannot claim to be pro-life while knowing that banning abortions can create deadly risks for women. Texas cannot be pro-life while children are placed in a collapsing foster care system. If we as a state are going to uphold a certain standard for life then we need to additionally support the continuation and satisfaction of those lives. At best, banning abortion suppresses women and our rights.
If Texas can’t understand that, then we’re not pro-life at all.
Kaelin Connor is a psychology senior and opinion writer for The Battalion.
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