Why the new Texas abortion law is unconstitutional

Earlier this week on Friday, the Supreme Court allowed the Texas abortion law, a law banning abortions as early as six weeks into the pregnancy, to remain in action against the request of the Justice Department, amid the department’s lawsuit against the lower Texas courts that enacted the law. The very complex sequence of events, including blocks, stays, and hearings, from one court to the next, have, at the end, made it so this law, originally enacted in September, remains in place, while the final decision for the case will be made in November. But what does this mean for the women in Texas who had planned on getting abortions? 

To start, some women do not even know if they are pregnant at six weeks. Now, unable to get an abortion for the pregnancy they may not even know that they have, they are faced with two very hard decisions. 

The first would be, of course, to keep the pregnancy and have a baby. But what if the woman does not have the financial resources to raise a child for 18 years? Welfare programs may help, but only if she qualifies by receiving a basically bare minimum wage. In Texas, specifically, a history of welfare reform has made receiving adequate cash assistance significantly more difficult. From 1997 to 2014, the number of residents on welfare rolls has decreased from a monthly average of 479,000 to under 60,000. With the low probability and insufficient funds going into welfare, her application for programs of assistance would not be likely to help her provide for her child in any significant way.

Well, what if she decides to put that child up for adoption? The harsh reality is that abandoned children, no matter when and by whom they are adopted, do not immediately recover from abandonment as well as one unfamiliar with the process may think. Suicide rates are estimated at four times higher for adopted children than for those who were raised by their parents, not to mention the dire situation of the foster care system, in which children are constantly abandoned by foster parents and recirculated in this manner into a highly overcrowded system. A system that, in 2019, had “skyrocketing reports of abuse and mistreatment” in Texas. And what happens once the child ages out of the system and is sent into the world? They become homeless, left with absolutely no assistance to aid them as an adult. And so, the woman decides to keep the pregnancy, largely against her will, regardless of rape or incest. I would like for you to imagine for a moment how re-traumatizing it would be to develop for 9 months and then give birth to a child that is the result of being raped. The abortion law is rooted in a demonstration of removed carelessness about the mother and about her life. If she is in desperate need of an abortion, she will seek one through unsafe, non-medically regulated means that put her health at risk. Her life is not being valued in these cases, and the law sets up the child of this system for a life of struggle.

A major factor of the Texas abortion law is the constant fear of lawsuits circulating around anyone who “aids and abets” a woman seeking an abortion. The doctor performing the surgery, the person loaning money, the driver escorting the woman to the hospital: they are all at risk of being sued a minimum of $10,000, just for providing assistance. Since the law is not enforced by officials, only private citizens, this means anyone can sue an individual involved in the abortion. This not only proliferates the difficulty of getting an abortion but also leaves the woman completely abandoned by those around her, out of fear of being sued for any sort of assistance to her.

Even if the woman is extremely wealthy and has all of the resources to raise a child, she should be entitled to an abortion because it is her own body. In what case is it justifiable in other situations to make a law restricting one’s control over their own physical self? Why do we continue to restrict people who do not want it to a destiny of motherhood? The law is unconstitutional, absolutely. Many people have argued against the law on this front in its breaking of Roe v. Wade, including Supreme Court justice Sonia Sotomayor, who is dismayed at the delayed medical relief women will receive due to the stay of the law. At heart, the issue is not about life or death. It’s not about babies, God, or doing “the right thing,” which in my opinion, is allowing women to have a choice over their own bodies, regardless of circumstance, and regardless of a man with a gavel and block’s opinion. The good thing about abortion legality is that every woman has control over her own body, meaning that any woman who does not want an abortion, does not have to get one. Why can’t we make it the same for women who do? For women who are victims, women who do not have resources, and women who have been abandoned, we should maintain the constitutional and moral right to abortion.