So a few weeks back, I did a lot of writing about Texas SB5, a piece of horrid legislation that will severely restrict the availability of safe abortions in Texas, as well as the incredible effort put forth by Wendy Davis to prevent the bill from passing during a special session of the Texas legislature.
Unfortunately, Governor Rick Perry decided that oppressing women and controlling their bodies was SO important that he called a SECOND special session of the legislature to get these abortion restrictions in place. I find it very disturbing that the very same week that he signed that order, Texas celebrated (and I do mean celebrated) the execution of their 500th prisoner. Unfortunately, with an entire 30-day window to push through this disgusting encroachment on women’s bodies, there was simply no procedural method available to prevent the bill from being pushed through. Today, Perry signed the bill into law.
The immediate effect will be to prevent women from receiving abortions after the 20th week of pregnancy. The justification is the highly disputed and poorly supported idea that fetuses feel pain at that point. But, far more disturbing will be the impact next fall. The law imposes extremely onerous restrictions on abortion providers far in excess of any other kind of medical practice. Clinics will have one year to comply or be forced to shutter their doors. As thing stand now, the second largest state in term of both size and population will be reduced from 42 abortion providers to just 5. The impact will hit low-income and minority women particularly hard; with no money to travel to a clinic they will have any notion of “choice” erased from their lives. What terrifies me most is that this will open the door for the re-introduction back-alley abortion providers; many desperate women will end up on the tables of the these unscrupulous people, and will risk scarring, infection, disability, infertility, and even death because a safe alternative simply isn’t available. It’s more than a right to choose…it’s a right to choose safely.
Luckily, lawsuits are already being written to delay and hopefully completely stop these new restrictions from taking effect. The federal courts have not looked favorably on similar bans in other states, and I’m hoping that trend continues here. After all, Roe v. Wade clearly set a precedent for the available of pregnancy termination at least to viability, which is pretty universally defined as 24 weeks. Unfortunately, Texas isn’t the only state taking the war on women’s rights to terrifying new heights. North Carolina, Ohio, Wisconsin, and Virginia have all recently enacted similar restrictions, and several other states are considering the same.
This push by the GOP to further invade women’s private health decisions and erode their rights over their body is nothing new, but it’s hitting with new fervor. It’s time those of us on the pro-choice side to start making more noise of our own and let our leaders know that will not stand for these intrusions. We need to all Stand With Wendy, and stand with each other.