Texas heartbeat law an opportunity for deeper change

Texas heartbeat law an opportunity for deeper change

Texas has become the first US state to pass a heartbeat bill, after an emergency appeal from abortion providers and others failed in the Supreme Court. The law prohibits abortions once medical professionals can detect cardiac activity, usually around six weeks of pregnancy.

Pro-lifers are celebrating the law as legal protection for unborn children and “a historic step forward for basic human rights”.

In contrast, the bill has drawn outcry from pro-abortion advocates who have said that such a reduction of abortion access is “devastating”, “cruel”, “catastrophic”, “unethical”, “inhumane” and “unjust”. 

In response, US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi has vowed to enshrine a federal right to abortion on demand through all nine months of pregnancy via the Women’s Health Protection Act - a bill that was first introduced in 2013. The bill, if enacted, would also remove important informed consent protections for women.

Destiny Herndon-De La Rosa, the founder of New Wave Feminists who is based in Dallas, Texas, has offered a different perspective

Texas just became the first state to pass a heartbeat bill, effectively banning all abortions once cardiac activity is detectable,” she said.

“And here’s the deal, at New Wave Feminists we HATE abortion. It’s a bastion of patriarchy mislabeled as a ‘feminist issue’.

“For far too many, abortion has been perceived as a necessary evil in our society. People only feel they need access to it due to of lack of access to preventative measures and truly comprehensive sex ed (I’m not talking the PP bullshit, I mean REAL education on our fertility, both male and female), and inadequate resources should one become pregnant. 

“I know this, because that’s 99% of the feedback I get when talking to someone considering abortion. They aren’t focused on the law. They’re focused on the reality of their current situation. They’re gonna lose their job. They don’t know how to access healthcare. They are going to be kicked out of their home. They’re being pressured into terminating by their partner who doesn’t want the financial and emotional [responsibility] of raising a child.

“This is real. 

“Nobody grows up ‘wanting’ to get an abortion. They often make that ‘choice’ because it feels like they have no other real options. 

“No matter what the laws are, we must focus just as much time, money, and energy on building systems that prevent unintended pregnancies in the first place, and fighting against broken ones that make pregnancy a liability for so so many people in our state.

“The humanity of the unborn should absolutely be protected. As Consistent Life Feminists, we believe in bodily autonomy from the moment our bodies first come into existence. These children must be humanized but so should their parents. 

“Making abortion illegal is one thing, but those seeking them will still find a way if they’re desperate enough. Which is why it would be much more effective to make abortion unnecessary to begin with. We can’t just cut off supply without first addressing demand.

“So, Texas, I hope to see you putting just as much energy into:

  • Fertility Awareness Curriculum In Schools (including fetal development information) 
  • Pregnancy Prevention 
  • Affordable Childcare 
  • Access To Housing
  • More Funding To Food Banks
  • Knowledge About Accessing Medicaid (because so so many people facing unintended pregnancies don’t even know about this, and it’s a major reason they decide to abort)
  • Pregnant And Parenting Student Housing On Campuses (and systems that prevent them from losing scholarships should they become pregnant) 
  • Protocols That Take Special Care Of Pregnant Migrants Seeking Asylum 
  • Laws That Protect Pregnant Individuals At Their Workplaces And In Their Schools.  

…and the list goes on. 

“Please hear us, because we’re the ones listening to them when they call us crying as their worlds are unraveling. They don’t care about all of the money being poured into laws when they have .75 cents in their bank accounts and have no clue how they can possibly bring their child into this world. 

“You got your law. Now the real work begins. It’s no longer an option to ignore these broken systems. Now it’s a necessity to fix them.”

At Women’s Forum Australia, we also value the inherent dignity of every human life, and support the protection of unborn children from the violence of abortion.

But like Destiny, we similarly recognise the enormous amount of work that needs to be done in order for no woman to ever feel like she “needs” to get an abortion.

Abortion on demand reduces the enthusiasm to address the real issues women seeking abortion face. We hope that this law will be a catalyst to bring the real needs and struggles of women back into focus so that they never feel as if abortion is their only "choice".