By Grace Hamilton, Staff Writer
Healthcare is a right, and abortion is healthcare. This means that safe access to abortion is a right.
Preventing abortions is not about religion. It’s not about morality, belief or love. It’s about power. It’s about controlling women’s bodies and the bodies of those who give birth.
In Texas, a new law went into effect that bans abortion after six weeks of pregnancy. Most people don’t know that they’re pregnant until after that point.
The worst part is that the law is essentially upheld by private citizens. If someone is suspected of having an abortion, providing a ride to an abortion clinic or even lending financial support to someone who is getting one, then a private citizen can sue them and receive $10,000 from the accused if they succeed.
It’s not a law. It’s a bounty.
Our bodies belong to us. What we do with them belongs to us.
This is an erasure of choice and of freedom, and it’s been going on for a long time. In 1973, the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision set the precedent for a woman’s right to an abortion. Since then, anti-choice legislators and politicians have been trying to reverse that decision and limit the control we have over ourselves.
This “heartbeat bill,” as it’s so ironically called, makes no exception for victims of rape or incest. According to the creators and supporters of this bill, an abortion is an abortion, and no one is allowed to have them.
But for these politicians, preachers, legislators and leaders, they will still have access to abortions. Their mistresses, daughters and wives will still get abortions when they need them. The point is not to ban abortion. The point is to control who can get an abortion.
Anti-choice vigilantes can sue someone suspected of having or assisting an abortion for $10,000. For those with a lower income, this is a killing number. It’s an execution.
For the wealthy and powerful, it’s nothing. And that’s on the off chance that any of them will ever be targeted.
This isn’t a moral move, a religious one or one done in the interest of children. It’s a message, and it’s a threat. Instead of spending money on comprehensive sex education, birth control and contraception, they are saying to every woman and every person who gives birth: “You don’t own your body. We do.”
Banning abortions doesn’t stop abortions; it just makes them incredibly more dangerous. A desperate person will find a way, and they might die because of it. According to the World Health Organization, about 13.2% of yearly maternal deaths are due to unsafe abortions, and Texas is only adding to that statistic —and they do not care.
They don’t care about the children in foster care, who number in the thousands. They don’t care about survivors of rape or incest, whose trauma they only want to worsen. They don’t care about those who can’t afford to carry a baby to term while paying for hospital bills; otherwise, they would offer to pay for it themselves. They don’t care. They don’t care. They don’t care.
Their arguments about morality, the rights of children, the “dead fetuses” they find behind abortion clinics, faith and justice and legality all fall upon deaf ears because we know what they want. They have made that very clear.
They want to control what women wear, so they shame us for our clothes and how they make us look. They want to control how women act, so they say our actions got us raped, attacked or killed. They want to control how much power we have, so they keep us from voting, from owning our own bank accounts, from offices of power and from having a say over what we do with our own bodies.
They are adding to the trauma of womanhood: the pain of it, the suffering and the performance. But life is not about suffering or trauma, and life is not meant to be a performance. It is supposed to belong to the living.
Respecting the rights of women and the rights of those who give birth is not an impossible task. We need to stop treating it like it is. The precedent that Roe v. Wade set needs to be upheld. The “heartbeat bill” in Texas needs to be destroyed, burned or buried.
There is a way forward, but we’ve been fighting for so long that it seems a long way off. But this is the fight that can’t end until it ends on our terms. Until we belong to ourselves. Until we are no longer viewed as vessels, wombs or baby-making machines.
There is a way forward, and it’s the only way I’m willing to go.