Abortion opponents applaud the new Texas law that effectively outlaws the procedure at six weeks. But consider the plight of a frightened Texas high school student who discovers that she is two months pregnant and fears being shunned by her toxically backward parents.
She thinks about her finances, her educational future, whether she is emotionally ready for the burdens of parenthood and more. She carefully reaches her decision to have an abortion. But she shouldn’t have bothered. Because, in Texas, a mostly male fraternity of Republican legislators and the state’s governor, Greg Abbott, have concluded that they have the qualifications necessary to make that decision for her. Rather than thoughtfully legislating, they have opted to decide what’s best for every pregnant woman, no matter her situation.
Could West Virginia’s women similarly find their freedom of choice, a freedom guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution, hijacked by extremist legislators? Possibly, given that our Legislature has its share of members who, for a few votes in the next election, would happily lace up their heavy boots and stomp their way into the sacred space between a woman and her doctor.
The Texas law is bizarre in numerous ways. It ends the right to an abortion when most women aren’t aware they are pregnant, when a fetal “heartbeat” may be detected, we are told. But a heart does not exist at six weeks. It is only faint electrical impulses that may be measured.
Equally strange, police play no role in enforcement of the Texas law. Instead, citizens will employ vigilante-style “justice,” by filing lawsuits against women they suspect have sought an abortion after six weeks. It’s Tort Hell on steroids. Mendacious Texans will become bounty hunters, seeking awards of $10,000 to be paid by offending women, many of whom are young people, like the distraught high-schooler mentioned above, who have done nothing more than exercise their constitutionally guaranteed right.
Those who are alert to slippery slopes might consider an analogous, although hypothetical, West Virginia law that would render it illegal for anyone under 40 to own a gun. It is a reasonable piece of legislation, lawmakers would tell us, because gun violence is more frequent among our younger citizens (and because those legislators had received large contributions from the gun control folks).
Also, suppose that such a law made enforcement taboo for the police, instead relegating that responsibility to neighbors, family members and anyone else in the community.
As a result, a citizen who spied a 30-something at a gun show could file suit against the young fellow, in hopes of being awarded $10,000, even though the defendant had a Second Amendment right to own a gun. That’s the essence of the process by which Texas politicians have essentially vaporized a woman’s right to an abortion. The U.S. Supreme Court will probably toss the Texas law, but it remains a disgrace to the Lone Star State that the law was enacted.
A few decades ago, the Republican Party decided to woo evangelical Christians, a genus enamored with the erroneous notion that Jesus opposed abortion. But if evangelicals would trouble themselves to read the New Testament, they would find themselves at a loss to locate any words of Jesus that condemn abortion, because Jesus said nothing about it.
Many seem to have lost perspective on the deity’s themes of love, faith and charity, instead remaining spring loaded to project their individual preferences onto their religions. It’s a human failing, and it must be forgiven. Nevertheless, such folks arouse our concerns, doubly so if they believe that their god would want any help from the likes of Texas or West Virginia legislators.