Texas Governor Greg Abbott continues his expansion of Government powers over individual liberty by signing a bill making abortion a felony. The interesting catch is the law only takes effect if the US Supreme Court overturns the 1973 landmark ruling Roe v. Wade.
This Texas abortion ban continues Governor Abbott’s pattern of limiting the rights of individuals in favor of the government control over people’s lives. Previously, Abbott signed SB 8, which banned abortion in Texas after six weeks of gestation. Many women do not know they are pregnant so early in pregnancy.
SB 8, known as the “ heartbeat ban,” removes the rights of pregnant people to control what happens to their bodies even if they were the victims of incest or rape.
The new law passed on July 16 takes the abortion ban on step further. Under HB 1280, any health provider who attempts to perform an abortion could be charged with a second-degree felony. If the abortion is successful, doctors can be charged with a first-degree felony and potentially life in prison. Physicians who perform abortions would face fines of a minimum of $100,000 and lose their license.
While it may seem strange that Texas would pass a state law contingent upon a potential change in Federal law, the timing of HB 1280 coincides with abortion legal challenges happening on a national stage. The US Supreme Court will hear arguments this fall on a Mississippi law banning abortion after fifteen weeks gestation.
Mississippi’s abortion law serves as a test case for many other abortion restrictions passed in various states. The Mississippi law is in direct conflict with the wording in Roe v. Wade which gave women the Constitutional right to terminate a pregnancy before fetal viability, the time at which a baby can survive outside of the uterus.
Due to advancements in neonatology intensive care, preterm babies can survive as early as 23–24 weeks in most hospitals. A Mississippi Supreme Court victory would remove the viability threshold established in 1973, opening the legal doors for other states to limit reproductive rights.
Some believe the Supreme Courts’ shift to the political right increases the odds of Roe vs Wade will be overturned. The former President appointed three pro-life Justices during his term. Justice Gorsuch, Kavanaugh, and Barrett have a strong history of supporting anti-choice legislation. The conservatives are now in the majority, six to three.
The new Texas abortion ban, HB 1280, that turns physicians into criminals, was co-sponsored by Southlake’s Representative Giovanni Capriglione and McKinney’s Senator Angela Paxton.
The law includes no exceptions for pregnancies that result from rape or incest. There are narrow exceptions for pregnant people with life-threatening conditions
An increase in government control over healthcare decisions has many people on edge. Paxton Smith, the valedictorian of Lake Highlands High School’s Class of 2021, drew national attention for her passionate commencement speech. Smith focused on the idea of personal liberty.
Smith questioned the “heartbeat bills” idea that rape victims, through no fault of their own, can no longer make a personal choice regarding their future. Instead, the Texas Government dictates these womens’ future. As Smith said, “a decision that will affect the rest of their lives is made by a stranger.”
Texas women no longer have the right to choose to parent or choose an alternative path. Instead, Governor Abbott has determined the Texas Government should decide what is best for each woman.
Smith summed up the dangers of governmental overreach stating:
“I have dreams, and hopes, and ambitions. Every girl graduating today does. And without our input and without our consent, our control over that future has been stripped away from us.”