Texas abortion laws and the national debate

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[Editor’s note: Full version posted Tuesday, Nov. 19, 10:40 p.m. CST]

The Supreme Court’s historic decision in 1973’s Roe vs. Wade made it legal for women to get abortions in the United States. Nevertheless, individual states can still set up their own roadblocks to make the process as difficult as possible. One state recently guilty of doing just this is none other than the Lone Star State. Most will not be too surprised to hear about the new Texas state bill that, according to The Daily Cougar, Gov. Rick Perry has signed into law to supposedly “protect both the unborn and the health of the women of Texas.”

According to ABCnews.com, the law will dramatically decrease women’s options to receive safe and legal abortions. Now, it will be necessary for any doctor performing an abortion to have “admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of the clinic.” Admitting privileges means that any doctor performing abortions at a clinic must also be a member of the hospital staff within 30 miles and therefore permitted to admit patients into that hospital. This law also makes abortions after the 20-week mark illegal “unless the health of the women is in immediate danger.” Abortion inducing pills now must be taken under the watchful eye of a doctor, and beginning on Sept. 1, 2014, all abortion procedures are required to be performed in an ambulatory surgical center. This means that abortions cannot be performed in clinics or without the prior approval of a health care provider.

These new hurdles in the way of receiving the procedure are just an additional add-on to already strict laws in the South. The southern states are known for their more conservative views, although this cannot be viewed as always a bad thing.

Professor Bill Martin said “As someone from the South myself, I think it is too easy to say ‘There go those Southerners again’ or ‘There goes Texas again.’  That is basically going after ‘low-hanging fruit,’ so to speak, and also it is generally just an excuse for liberals and Democrats to do a lousy job of speaking forthrightly in the defense of reproductive rights, women’s rights in general, and rights in general.”

The political debate on abortion is nothing new, and continues to be a highly sensitive topic amongst politicians and their constituents alike. It asks the question of whether it is morally acceptable to end a life before it begins, and perhaps even more importantly, when does life technically start? Pro-life believers argue that adoption is the much more human option, and that law should not require taxpayers against abortion to financially support the procedure. There is also the fact that women who go undergo abortions commonly end up with mental trauma such as depression or anxiety.

On the other hand, pro-life believers arguing for adoption as a viable alternative to abortion must regard the fact that there are, according to childrensrights.org, already 400,000 children in the foster care system on any given day. This number would only increase with the outlawing or dramatic restriction of abortions nationwide. While a woman’s struggle with emotional problems after undergoing abortion is a very true fact that should not be belittled, the same struggle goes for children in the foster care system. Childrensrights.org reported that an astonishing 80 percent of children in foster care suffer from “serious emotional problems.”

The reality is that as it is with all great arguments, both sides have a pretty respectable case to make.  Aren’t there many US citizens against the welfare system or Obamacare? The entire country will never agree on every single thing its taxes go towards. This is a democracy, and majority will always rule.

According to Professor Martin, the ultimate solution to the pro-life vs. pro-choice argument “will have to be a radical reconfiguration, on multiple levels, of our society as a whole.” However, this is no small feat.

“But in the meantime, consider the extraordinary hypocrisy of being against reproductive rights and yet also against the broadest dissemination of safe and effective means of birth control,” Martin said. “This hypocrisy is typical of the people who are against reproductive rights, and of course it is not unconnected to the inability of our society to take up questions of sex and sexuality in a non-repressive way, even while consumer-and media-culture tells people to have sex all day, every day.”