Letter to the Editor: Feelings about the Texas Abortion Law

Joey Colby, Contributor

I write this article out of necessity. We aren’t having an important conversation about the attack on women’s reproductive healthcare. I want to start this off with a trigger warning, I am going to discuss sexual assault, sexual abuse and abortion. If these trigger you, please stop reading.

I am a senior in the Women and Gender Studies program. My ambition is to attend graduate school and achieve a Masters in Social Work. I’m doing this because I want to help those who have survived sexual abuse and sexual assault. I am a victim of sexual abuse. I am coming out about this against my better judgment. However, as of a couple days ago women have all but lost the right of bodily autonomy. I come out in solidarity with my brothers, sisters and those outside the gender binary who have been sexually assaulted and/or abused. You are not alone. I come out in solidarity with those who understand what it is like to have your bodily autonomy violated. When the state tells a woman what she can or can’t do with her uterus, that is a violation of bodily autonomy. You are not alone.

The decision in Texas to ban abortion at six weeks brings down a heavy hammer on all victims of sexual assault and abuse. As all survivors of sexual abuse and assault can comprehend the trauma in the violation of our bodies. We deeply understand the unfathomable dark abyss of agony that survivors must crawl through in picking up the pieces of having our bodily autonomy violated. A fanatically conservative Supreme Court composed predominantly by conservative men has opened the gates of Hell for women. This bill is essentially a forced pregnancy bill.

The right for a woman to make choices with her uterus is an inalienable human right. If a woman becomes pregnant, it is her choice to determine how she wishes to handle her pregnancy. The reproductive care that a woman receives is not up to anyone but her. The healthcare that is available to women is something that should be decided solely by women. Men have no right to restrict or moderate the availability of healthcare options for women. Make no mistake, abortion is healthcare.

Roe v. Wade was decided 48 years ago. In 2021 alone, there have been 90 abortion restrictions enacted by different states. As I write this article, a multitude of states such as Florida, Mississippi and North Dakota are looking to enact similar laws. The law in Texas doesn’t give exemptions to rape or incest. It allows private citizens to sue anyone who assists a woman get an abortion. If we were in Texas and I drove a pregnant woman to a clinic, I would be legally liable for $10,000 if an abortion was performed after a heartbeat was detected.

“Cardiac activity” in a fetus is typically detected around six weeks. I put cardiac activity in quotations because it is arguable whether or not it is a heartbeat. There are no heart valves at 6 weeks of pregnancy. It is just a clump of cells, it is essentially an embryo. The argument made by “pro-poverty” advocates is that if it has a heartbeat, it is alive. It’s important to distinguish the disingenuous argument that the proponents of these bills are “pro-life” The proponents of anti-abortion bills have voted on bills that cut medicaid funding, gut environmental regulations and dismantling the ACA which protects pre-existing conditions. There is nothing “pro-life” about this bill or those who champion it. They are pro-poverty. 

Men largely lack an understanding of reproductive health and anatomy. It’s important to explain that a missed period isn’t something that sounds the alarm on pregnancy for women. Periods vary from 21 – 42 days and are often missed for a variety of reasons outside of pregnancy. Examples of reasons why women miss periods are because of stress, alterations in diet, sleep and weight. There are many other reasons, but it isn’t realistic for a woman to assume that just because she missed her period that she is pregnant. By and large, by the time a woman knows that she is pregnant, she may very well be beyond the sixth week.

We must continue the fight. We must continue to stand in solidarity and fight for the right of bodily autonomy. We must also look to those who disingenuously conflate a woman’s right to choose with their right to challenge the science of a safe and effective vaccine. Demanding that women carry an unwanted pregnancy to term is inhumane, cruel and wrong. Demanding that women’s sexuality conform to standards set by men is depersonalizing, callous and maliciously authoritarian.

I want to end this article with some wise words by Ayn Rand.

Never mind the vicious nonsense of claiming that an embryo has a “right to life.” A piece of protoplasm has no rights—and no life in the human sense of the term. One may argue about the later stages of a pregnancy, but the essential issue concerns only the first three months. To equate a potential with an actual, is vicious; to advocate the sacrifice of the latter to the former, is unspeakable. . . . Observe that by ascribing rights to the unborn, i.e., the nonliving, the anti-abortionists obliterate the rights of the living: the right of young people to set the course of their own lives. The task of raising a child is a tremendous, lifelong responsibility, which no one should undertake unwittingly or unwillingly. Procreation is not a duty: human beings are not stock-farm animals. For conscientious persons, an unwanted pregnancy is a disaster; to oppose its termination is to advocate sacrifice, not for the sake of anyone’s benefit, but for the sake of misery qua misery, for the sake of forbidding happiness and fulfillment to living human beings.” — Ayn Rand, The Objectivist Forum.