Texas recently passed a new law that restricts abortion. Naturally, a lot of people freaked out about it and both social media and the news media were dumpster fires of angst and overused references to The Handmaid’s Tale.
During this dumpster fire, I noticed a few common themes (in addition to the normal pro-choice talking points):
-Women seeking abortions were being sued or were going to be sued by random Texans who didn’t want them to have an abortion or were suing them just to get $10,000.
-Women pregnant due to rape, incest, sexual assault, or who are having an emergency or life threats wouldn’t be able to have abortions.
-Rapists intentionally impregnating their rape victims, just to provoke them to have an abortion so they could then sue the victim and get $10,000.
-Uber drivers getting sued by more random Texans because they drove a pregnant woman to a clinic that provides abortions.
-Fathers of the unborn babies not being required to pay child support or prenatal care.
Upon hearing about these legitimately terrible living conditions for pregnant women in the state of Texas, and being the obstreperous fellow I am, I took it upon myself to do what no one else had seemed to do yet: I read the bill. All 25 pages of it.
Here’s what I found: None of that stuff.
Yeah, you read that correctly. None of that was in there. From what I can tell, news outlets, social media, politicians, and excessively vocal unformed people have muddied the waters and gotten everyone into a tizzy.
For starters, those who said the pregnant woman seeking an abortion can be sued or held legally liable for seeking an abortion after fetal cardiac activity is detected are kind of super wrong. The bill specifically says: “This subchapter may not be construed to authorize the initiation of a cause of action against or the prosecution of a woman on whom an abortion is performed or induced or attempted to be performed or induced in violation of this subchapter…”
Translation: A woman who had an abortion, is having an abortion, or is seeking an abortion cannot have legal action taken against her for having, had, or for seeking an abortion.
For those who said rapists, sexual assailants, and incest-committers will be raping, sexually assaulting, or having incest with women with the intention of getting them pregnant, just to provoke them to have an abortion so they can sue for $10,000, the bill also has an answer for that and says: “Notwithstanding any other law, a civil action under this section may not be brought by a person who impregnated the abortion patient through an act of rape, sexual assault, incest, or any other act prohibited by Sections 22.011, 22.021, or 25.02, Penal Code.”
Translation: The terrible person who caused that pregnancy cannot instigate legal action against the woman if she seeks or has an abortion.
In the tragic event that a pregnant woman’s life is in danger due to the pregnancy and the only way to save the woman’s life is by her having an abortion due to a medical emergency, abortions are still legal.
In fact, if my understanding of the bill is correct, the standard of “medical emergency” is actually somewhat loose and basically, the abortion provider just needs to document that it’s their belief based on expert opinion, science, and best medical judgment that an abortion is the only way to resolve the emergency. The bill says, “ If an abortion is performed or induced on a pregnant woman because of a medical emergency, the physician who performs or induces the abortion shall execute a written document that certifies the abortion is necessary due to a medical emergency and specifies the woman’s medical condition requiring the abortion…If the abortion is performed or induced to preserve the health of the pregnant woman, execute a written document that: Specifies the medical condition the abortion is asserted to address and provides the medical rationale for the physician’s conclusion that the abortion is necessary to address the medical condition…”
Of the entire bill, this part is probably my favorite: “The father is liable for assistance in the support of the child without regard to whether the father has offered to pay for the abortion…”
The father is liable to pay for prenatal care and child support. I imagine the woman would likely need to have a prenatal paternity blood test if the father is uncooperative, but it’s excellent that they put this clause in the bill to help hold fathers accountable to the offspring they had a hand in creating.
I’m not a lawyer or legal expert, but I’m pretty sure that the father being on the hook for financial support is only able to be in there because early on in the bill they defined an “unborn child” as “a human fetus or embryo in any stage of gestation from fertilization until birth.” They also elaborated that cardiac activity is a good, science-proven indicator that the unborn baby is a human life and that the pregnancy is progressing normally and likely to result in a viable full-term baby.
Interestingly, when this bill is compared to the New York abortion bill that came out in 2019, the New York one never actually defined when human life begins and only references that a person is a person if they’ve been born. That logic explains why they removed additional charges of homicide, manslaughter, reckless endangerment, etc. if someone kills a pregnant woman and her unborn baby. Fun fact: The final three pages of single-spaced type of the New York bill is only a list of all the laws that have been amended to reflect the de-personing of the unborn and the lack of additional criminal charges that can be applied to various crimes. It’s an interesting list, you should check it out.
Really, that removal of personhood might explain why the New York bill doesn’t have a clause saying the father is liable to provide financial support. After all, it’s hard to provide financial support for a non-person.
When read side by side, the Texas bill sounds much less restrictive and more humane to the mother, the unborn baby, and the inalienable rights they both possess.
Questions, comments, concerns, opinions? Comment below or shoot an email to Adam@LetsDigress.com. And please, be kind and grammatically decent.