Posted October 18, 2021 by Emma Sealey

"Texas’s heartbeat abortion ban sets a dangerous precedent and directly threatens women’s autonomy over their own bodies."

Texas’ Restrict 2021 Abortion Law: Americans Overwhelmingly Disapprove

By: Emma Sealey

October 18, 2021

A poll released by NPR on October 4, 2021, revealed that an overwhelming majority of Americans oppose the controversial new Texas abortion law.[1] On May 19, 2021, Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed into law Senate Bill 8 (SB8) that bans an individual from getting an abortion after only a mere six weeks of pregnancy.[2] The bill is controversial because it is practically an outright ban on abortion as many women are unaware of their pregnancy at six weeks.[3] In fact, the mean gestational period at the time of pregnancy awareness was 5.5 weeks.[4] Dr. Jen Villavicencio explained that many women are unaware of their pregnancies around six weeks because 45-49% of pregnancies are not planned, irregular periods are common, and the United States lacks a uniform comprehensive and accurate sex education curriculum leaving many people uninformed about events relating to pregnancy.[5] Planned Parenthood explains that a six-week ban makes it “both medically and logistically impossible for most people to determine that they are pregnant and arrange for safe, legal abortion care.”[6]

However, not only does SB8 ban abortion after six weeks, but the bill also allows any private citizen to sue doctors, abortion providers, or anyone who helps someone get an abortion after the detection of a fetal “heartbeat.”[7]

Early in September, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to block SB8 with a 5-4 vote. However, the Supreme Court’s decision left open the possibility for abortion providers to challenge the Texas law in other ways.[8]

The Texas Tribune reports that SB8 was a top priority for Republican Lawmakers,[9] but recent polls suggest that the lawmakers did not make this law with the needs of the American people in mind. The poll from NPR found that 59% of Republicans and 61% of Democrats oppose a 6-week heartbeat ban.[10] Additionally, over three-quarters of respondents reported they do not think a private citizen should be allowed to sue anyone who assists a woman in getting an abortion.[11] This component of SB8 has been “wildly unpopular”.[12]

The six-week timeline to get an abortion is a façade as in reality, in the earliest of awareness situations, a woman has a one-to-two week timeline to secure an abortion. The poll results show more than 50% of people across the political aisle disapprove of SB8; however, Texas politicians claim this was a top priority. This begs the question if SB8 was not a top priority for the American people why is it a top priority for politicians? Texas’s heartbeat abortion ban sets a dangerous precedent and directly threatens women’s autonomy over their own bodies.

[1] Domenico Montanaro, The Provisions in Texas’ Restrictive Abortion Law are Not Popular, an NPR Poll Finds, NPR (Oct. 4, 2021, 12:00 P.M.).

[2] Edgar Sandoval & Dave Montgomery, Near-Complete Ban on Abortion is Signed Into Law in Texas, N.Y. Times, (Sept. 2, 2021).

[3] Id.

[4] Amy M. Branum & Katherine A. Ahrens, Trends in Timing of Pregnancy Awareness Among US Women, 21 Maternal and Child Health J., 715, 722 (July 23, 2016).

[5] Jessica Ravitz, Reasons a Woman May Not Know She’s Pregnant at Six Weeks, CNN Health,(May 9, 2019, 10:49 A.M.).

[6] Bans on Abortion at 6 Weeks, Planned Parenthood

[7] Shannon Najmabadi, Gov. Greg Abbott Signs into Law One of Nation’s Strictest Abortion Measures, Banning Procedure as Early as Six Weeks into a Pregnancy, The Tx. Trib. (May 19, 2021).

[8] Nina Totenberg, Supreme Court Upholds New Texas Abortion Law, For Now, NPR (Sept. 2, 2021, 12:20 PM).

[9] Najmabadi, supra note 7.

[10] Montanaro, supra note i=1

[11] Id.

[12] Id.

Monday, October 18, 2021