or miscarriage (ensues in 30% to 40% of pregnancies).
To understand the situation, imagine you are in grave need of something, and the law of the land does not permit it! What would you do next? Maybe, seek illegal alternate solutions that maybe not be safe.
In the case of abortion, getting the job done clandestinely in some back street is known to be unsafe and even have costed women their lives.To protest against the law, the young TikTokers took the matter into their hands by temporarily bringing down the Texas anti-abortion site.
Texas Anti-Abortion Law
The Texas anti-abortion law went into effect on September 1, 2021. The Law prohibits abortion after the heartbeat of the fetus is detected. This happens around 6 weeks of pregnancy.
The Republican-controlled 87th Texas Legislature enacted the Texas Heartbeat Act during its regular session, that considers abortion as illegal after 6 weeks of pregnancy. The Act was hosted as Senate Bill 8 (S.B. 8), and Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed the law on May 15, 2021.
The law restricts its exception (abortions past six weeks) only in case of medical emergencies. There were no exceptions given even for pregnancies that may occur as a result of rape or incest. Only private lawsuits can obligate the law.
The HeartBeat Act Enforcement
As the anti-abortion law went into effect in Texas, a website called www.prolifewhistleblower.com.was established to collect the information about possible offenders who don’t follow the law and thereby help enact the Heartbeat Act of Texas.
As the law offended the young women, TikTokers clogged the website down by encouraging to pass on the fake tips to crash the website. Soon this became viral, and this was partly responsible for taking down the website.
Internet Glitz – The Technical Aspect
“That itself did not take the website offline, but what it meant was that it was sort of practically more difficult for anybody to get any useful information out of it. It also meant that the site got a lot of traffic, more traffic than it expected. That can sometimes take a site down temporarily”, says Mark Lemley, Professor of Internet Law.
“The bigger and more significant change, I think, came when companies including GoDaddy, decided not to host the website. The website exists on the internet, because it sort of is in the computer servers of a hosting company. When that hosting company cut them off, the site disappears from the internet unless and until they can find another hosting company”, says Lemley.
Moreover, the hosting companies claimed that the website also violated their terms of services regarding the collection of private medical data. Kimberlyn Schwartz from the Texas Right to Life affirms that they are planning to put the site back up & improve security.
Hazards of Unsafe Abortion
As the anti-abortion law narrows, some women may resort to dangerous, illegal, “back-alley” abortions or even self-induced abortions. The number of illegal abortions ranged from 200,000 to 1.2 million per year in the 1950s and 1960s in the United States, as per the Guttmacher Institute – the timeline when illegal abortion rooted its history.
WHO estimates that 73.3 million induced (safe and unsafe) abortions occurred annually throughout the world between 2015 and 2019. Every year, unsafe abortion attributes to 4.7% – 13.2% of maternal deaths. Moreover, the cost of treating the major complications of unsafe abortion sums up to USD 553 million annually.
On the contrary, legalizing abortion may also allow for explicit usage of the procedure to limit the birth of all congenital anomalies. This may make the world a tougher place for both women and the children with special needs (and similar ones) by encouraging a rather “survival of the fittest” concept.
The death and disabilities emerging from abortion can be thereby effectively prevented through use of effective contraception, sexuality education, provisions of safe, legal induced abortion with timely care for complications as per WHO.
Abortion and Contraception – Not to be Confused!
Contraception is a birth/fertility control method through measures that prevent pregnancy. It is considered one of the effective and safest methods against unplanned pregnancies.
The abortion rates have witnessed a downfall from 30 per 1,000 women (age group: 15-44 years) in 1980 to 11.3 per 1,000 women in 2018. It was found that 77.7% of abortions were executed at 9 weeks (or less) of gestation, and 92.2% at 13 weeks (or less) gestation in 2018.
Reports suggest that increased access to birth control measures is partly responsible for reductions in the abortion rate. Unlike, Republican Party, the Democratic Party defends abortion access and has also made it easier to acquire contraception.
With the emergence of medical awareness, counseling, and equal rights to health care, one may also seek a safer way to prevent pregnancies through contraception and limit abortions to justifiable grounds.
Hence, it is important to consider the option for safer access to abortions (up to a logical gestation period), contraceptive methods, and awareness strategies to foster a better society for everyone, including special children.
The Disputes of Abortion
Abortion in itself has been a long debate that attracts controversies all around the world. Certain countries allow for legal and safe abortion as a right of a woman, while others don’t.
Two opposite views are arising based on the conflicting debates – The “pro-choice” and “pro-life” movements.
Pro-Life – Abortion is considered equal to murder – an immoral act against the “unborn baby”, “unborn child”, or “pre-born child”.
Pro-Choice – Abortion is considered as a right to a woman to protect her body against unwanted pregnancies and their risks.
Hence the abortion debate put forth many ethical and philosophical contemplations on “What is life and what & when to consider the fetus as a living human being?”
Right to Abortion/Pro-Choice movements
Pro-Choice view believes that women hold complete freedom over their bodies and as the fetus is part of a woman’s body (not a separate entity), it is the choice of the woman to terminate the unwanted fetus – “Her Body Her Choice”.
The view believes that only the viable fetus (ability to live outside the womb at least by 50% – after 24 weeks of pregnancy) is considered a living human being with moral weights.
Hence, ultimately the abortion-rights movement argues that pregnant women should be given the right to choose on having or not having an abortion.
The Pro-life view believes that life begins at conception and some consider first heartbeat detection (6 weeks of pregnancy). The fetus is thereby considered a living human being, a separate entity from the mother with its moral protection. In addition, the mother holds no right to abort the unborn child except in medical emergencies.
The pro-life movements (or right-to-life movement) may hold their logical reasons as it is considered that conception (fusion of male sperm and female ovum) is the beginning of every event related to living human beings and hence life can be considered at conception.
The promoters argue that the human zygote (at the time of conception) is a human with its right to life.
In part, these anti-abortion movements began as countermovements response to elective abortions and their legalization. Usage of medical terms like “embryo”, “zygote”, and “fetus” might be, thus considered as dehumanizing by these activists.
Many countries hold pro-life groups, some of which are:
Europe: The abortion law varies by different countries in Europe, and parliamentary acts have either legalized them in certain places or heavily restricted (constitutionally banned) in others. The pro-life groups are:
- Republic of Ireland – Pro-Life Campaign, Youth Defence and the Iona Institute.
- Russia: legal up to the 12th week of pregnancy, and at later stages in special circumstances.
- Middle East
- Israel – major anti-abortion organization is Efrat.
- America – United States
The movements are taken place with the “Life Chain” technique where there is a public demonstration of anti-abortion messages like “Abortion Kills Children”, “Abortion stops a beating heart” or “Abortion Hurts Women” by standing in a row on sidewalks and holding the signs.
Abortion in the United States – The Timeline
The first country in the world that legalized all abortions was The Soviet Union under Lenin in 1920. Several countries legalize abortions for a safer life for a woman. Many other countries are also equally involved in the abortion debate supporting the abortion practice and its legal aspects.
The significant role for the formation of The United States anti-abortion movement was due to the response to a landmark decision of the Supreme Court in 1973 – Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton.
Since then, many anti-abortion organizations have emerged to abolish all sorts of killing on ethical, philosophical, and moral grounds that involve abortion, euthanasia, war, and capital punishment.
What is Roe v. Wade?
Roe v. Wade, 410 U.S. 113 (1973) states that a woman has the right to choose abortion until the fetus progresses to viability (24 – 28 weeks after conception). This is based on the right to privacy confined in the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.
Initially, abortion was considered illegal in Texas in the 1900s and throughout much of the country since the late 19th century. It was permitted only in cases of rape, incest, or health threat to the mother.
When Dallas resident Norma McCorvey (single, pregnant woman in her early 20s) had her third pregnancy, she made a false claim of being raped to obtain an illegal abortion in 1969. However, the efforts were failed that made her further seek the assistance of Linda Coffee and Sarah Weddington.
The claim was then filed by the alias Jane Roe for McCorvey (Henry Wade, was the District Attorney for Dallas County at the time). The case was first argued on December 13, 1971, reargued on October 11, 1972, and finally constitutionalized by legalizing abortions across the United States on January 22, 1973.
However, McCorvey had already given birth to her child before the case was decided. The court implicated that abortion was a woman’s right to privacy, protected by the 14th Amendment to the Constitution – as majority opinion written by Justice Harry Blackmun.
Since then, Roe v. Wade became a landmark legal decision issued in the U.S. Supreme Court, which struck down a Texas statute that bans abortion and established a “trimester” (i.e., 12 weeks) threshold for fetus life. This proved controversial in dividing the Americans in their support for choosing abortion as a woman’s right.
Several pro-life movements are also associated with many Christian religious groups (predominantly the Catholic Church, Evangelists) and the Republican Party.
The measures seek reversal of Roe v. Wade for promoting legislative/constitutional changes to restrict abortions in broad aspects through the Human Life Amendment & organizations like Secular Pro-Life.
The core issue of the group revolved around the existence of human life or personhood at either conception, birth, or at in between. However, the court declined the resolution of the issue noting that:
“We need not resolve the difficult question of when life begins. When those trained in the respective disciplines of medicine, philosophy, and theology are unable to arrive at any consensus, the judiciary, at this point in the development of man’s knowledge, is not in a position to speculate as to the answer”. Under English and American common law,“the unborn have never been recognized … as persons in the whole sense.”
Hence, the court merely declared their compelling interest in guarding the “potential life” at the point of viability.
Revolutionary Movements – U.S. & Texas
Texas (a state in the South Central region of the United States) gains its name from a Caddo word táyshaʼ (/tʼajʃaʔ/) meaning ‘friend’, during the Spanish rule.
However, the revolutionary actions in Texas throughout the years, helped the state declare its independence from Mexico on March 2, 1836, and finally win its independence on April 21, 1836. Since then, Texas is a free and independent State.
Before the 19th century, abortion was legal before “quickening,” in the United States. Quickening refers to the time point when a woman could feel the first fetal movements in her womb (around the 4th month/16 weeks of pregnancy).
However, in the 1820s and 1830s, there was an endorsement of certain early regulations concerning abortion as the state witnessed the sale & advertised use of dangerous drugs for inducing abortions in women.
With these, rising rates of unsafe abortions, The American Medical Association (newly established) in the late 1850s requested for the criminalization of abortion. Reports suggest that this was also in part associated with the struggle to remove competitors of doctors (midwives & homeopaths).
Supported with these, certain nativists were also alarmed by the rising population of the country (contributed by the immigrants). They developed anti-abortion views as they anticipated the fear of declined birth rates among American-born white Protestant women.
The Catholic Church then banned abortion (at any stage of pregnancy) in 1869. Following this, Congress passed the Comstock law (that illegalizes distribution of contraceptives and abortion-inducing drugs through the U.S. mail) in 1873.
Abortion was made illegal in most of the country by the 1880s. Finally, the groundwork for Roe v. Wade allowed the U.S. Supreme Court to struck down the law banning the distribution of birth control to married couples and contraceptives to unmarried adults in 1965 and 1972 respectively as they violated a constitutional right to privacy.
Since then, many states have legalized abortions.
Texas is home to many abortion rights activist communities through established organizations like Jane’s Due Process (Rosie Jimenez Day every October 3).
However, the state is also home to an anti-abortion rights community through organizations like Human Coalition. As a part of pro-life determinations, Operation Rescue’s national director (from an anti-abortion group) befriended Norma McCorvey and converted into Catholicism.
This resulted in her – McCorvey announcing that she was “pro-life” in 1995 – a vocal opponent of the abortion procedure. Several anti-abortion rights activists have also been involved in violent attacks in the state like arson attacks, butyric acid attacks, and an attempted bombing.
A Gallup Poll in 2009, states that most of the U.S. adults (51%) consider themselves “pro-life” while 42% recognized themselves as “pro-choice”. However, subsequent surveys reveal that the state entails equal dividends.
Impact of COVID-19 Pandemic on Abortion
With the surge of the COVID-19 pandemic, the endorsements of the anti-abortion acts were taken place by the government officials in several American states. These states implemented the restrictions on abortion during the period, considering it as a ‘non-essential procedure that can be suspended during the medical emergency’.
The act was challenged with several legal criticisms by national medical organizations like the American Medical Association and the human rights groups. Moreover, abortion providers like Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union successfully also managed to stop most of the orders on a momentary basis.
Another challenge was also made against the FDA’s rule on the distribution of mifepristone (RU-486), one of the abortion-inducing drugs. However, partly concerns raised by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and other groups, the Supreme Court maintained the FDA’s rule by ordering in a 6-3 decision in January 2021.
Is Abortion Really Illegal?
Abortions, as speculated by pro-life activists – the murder of an unborn, may hold their moral and biological aspects. Repeated abortions may also result in several unwanted burdens to a woman’s body and exploitation.
As per the ethics rooting from early medicine, the fetus is acknowledged with a person’s right (Respect for Persons/Autonomy), the fundamental equality of life (Justice), the obligation for no intentional harm (Nonmaleficence/do no harm), and benefit their welfare (Beneficence/do good).
However, banning abortions may itself implicate its own perils to women’s health (both physical and mental). This allows acknowledging the woman with her right to make choices for abortion (Respect for Persons/Autonomy), get her equal right to privacy and weigh benefits/burdens of abortion (Justice), suffer no obligatory harm from abortion (Nonmaleficence/do no harm), and be rendered with her welfare benefits (Beneficence/do good).
Both the fetus and mother’s aspects hold their own fundamentality and integrity, bringing the concept again into the grounds of divisive controversies. However, with the development of technologies and other medical safety procedures, it is equally important to consider safer abortion (under justifiable grounds) as a right to the good health of women.
Efforts to Block Texas Heartbeat Act
The enforcement of the Texas Heartbeat Act has attracted multiple activisms, outrages, and protests among the public. Several pro-abortion groups have put forth their complaints against the Texas Heartbeat Act and asked the U.S. Supreme Court to reconsider.
“Every day, the abortion industry loses money, loses business, and loses their legal attacks against the Texas Heartbeat Act. Today’s filing with the Supreme Court proves they are running out of options. The abortion industry is asking the court to forgo regular judicial procedures and step outside their constitutional authority to cater to the abortionists and stop this life-saving law”, says Texas Right to Life Vice President Elizabeth Graham.
The act has been enforced to legally sue anyone who might aid or abet abortions. Generally, when a law intimidates to penalize someone for exercising a constitutional right, judges disregard the peril by blocking law enforcement by the government.
However, the Texas statute empowers private bounty hunters and not the state enforcement to sue and penalize (at least $10,000) anyone who involves or aids in abortion after the 6th week of pregnancy.
This remains as one reason for five members of the Supreme Court for authorization of the blatantly unconstitutional statute to come into effect. Many also affirm that the new Texas anti-abortion law is implemented to drill fear of costly civil lawsuits among the public – an intentional, deliberately manipulative act that abuses legislative power and an extreme breach of the social contract.
This would rather rebound by stirring the opponents (from varied grounds) to fight back against the law even harder. However, the uncertainty, and ambiguity concerning the law and democracy of the people continue to prevail.
- Abortion in Texas – (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abortion_in_Texas)
- What is abortion? – (https://www.bpas.org/abortion-care/considering-abortion/what-is-abortion/)
- Roe v. Wade – (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roe_v._Wade)
- Anti-abortion movements – (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anti-abortion_movements)
- Abortion in the United States – (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abortion_in_the_United_States)
- United States anti-abortion movement – (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_anti-abortion_movement)
- Principles — Respect, Justice,
Nonmaleficence, Beneficence – (https://www.nwabr.org/sites/default/files/Principles.pdf)
- Preventing unsafe abortion – (https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/preventing-unsafe-abortion)