Texas Heartbeat Act criminalizes abortion six weeks into pregnancy


Nicco Pelicano/Hilltop Views

People protesting at The Capitol in Austin, TX over the new SB8 law criminalizing abortion after 6 weeks of pregnancy, or the detection of a heartbeat.

Senate Bill 8, otherwise known as SB 8 or the Texas Heartbeat Act, went into effect Sept. 1, stripping women of their fundamental rights and causing mass uncertainty, not only among the women of Texas, but women across the country. 

SB 8 bans abortions after six weeks of pregnancy, which is before most women are even able to determine a pregnancy. To be exact, the bill bans abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected, which typically happens around the six-week mark. 

The bill bans abortions, regardless of a pregnancy as result of rape or incest. SB 8 also allows just about anyone to sue a person  or facility that is suspected of performing or aiding an abortion.

While this is not the first time that we’ve seen a bill like this passed in the U.S., it’s definitely the most restrictive. According to the New York Times, we saw a surge of these bills passed back in 2019, however, they were never enforced since they were deemed unconstitutional. 

Let’s make something clear: SB 8 is as unconstitutional as these past bills, if not more. So how was it that this bill was passed and went into effect? Much like the 2016 election, it was one of those things that no one thinks will happen, and yet, it does without anything anyone can do to stop it. The lawmakers behind SB 8 made sure of that.

Pro-choice advocates looked to the Supreme Court (SCOTUS), hoping they would block the law on the premise of Roe v. Wade. As Sept. 1 arrived, however, SCOTUS voted not to act against SB 8, failing to mention Roe v. Wade. This is not to say the bill can’t be blocked in the future. For now, 80% of women who would typically look for an abortion in the Texas are left  in the dark. 

What makes SB 8 so infuriating to me, putting aside the fact that I am being stripped of my basic human rights, is the sheer hypocrisy of politically conservative people. They spent all of COVID-19 opposing maskmandates and other pandemic protocols on the grounds that it’s a direct violation of their constitutional and human rights. They claim to be true Americans, fighting for their First Amendment rights, or my personal favorite argument: “This is America, land of the free.” While that may be true for the upper-middle class white man, today it does not stand true for women.