Emma Bennett—Staff Writer
When it comes to discerning someone’s political slant, an often-referred-to question centers around abortion. Are they pro-life or pro-choice? In other words, do they support abortion? Typically, one will find conservatives affirming the former and liberals the latter. This statement can also indicate the person’s religion or party affiliation. A new law in Texas, however, may rattle this stereotype.
On Wednesday, Sept. 1, Texas legislators placed into effect a law preventing a woman from receiving an abortion at six weeks removed from the woman’s last menstrual period. This period is the mark where the lawmakers agreed a heartbeat could be perceived. While the patient who receives an abortion is not condemned, anyone who performs or helps with the procedure is in danger of being sued. In addition to this, if the accuser, or plaintiff, wins the case, they are given 10,000 dollars, including costs and attorney fees.
While the first instinct of many people would be to point out the blatant disregard for the Roe v. Wade case that granted women the constitutional right to have an abortion, the law is written with the express purpose of sidestepping the ruling. In addition to this, cases function entirely through civil lawsuits, leaving the state government free from the threat of being taken to court. As a result, the responsibility is put on Texas citizens to enforce it.
In the words of Nancy Pelosi, spokeswoman for the House of Representatives and a decided critic of the law, “[the law] unleashes one of the most disturbing, unprecedented and far-reaching assaults on health care providers – and on anyone who helps a woman, in any way, access an abortion – by creating a vigilante bounty system that will have a chilling effect.”
The Supreme Court justice Sonia Sotomayor also expressed her concerns, specifically with the monetary incentive to sue: “the cash reward effectively deputized the State’s citizens as bounty hunters.”
In addition to the statements above, the law extends to women who were victims of rape. While the rapist cannot sue, other parties can under something called “radical expansion” of standing, as well as “generalized grievances.” Standing is the grounds where one person can sue another, and in this instance, a relationship to the defendant is not needed. There has been a lot of discourse on this subject, with anti-abortion groups stating that this concept was already in effect under the label “general grievances,” when a case does not affect someone personally, but they are still allowed to sue.
The Texas law has sparked controversy. The Texas Tribune refuted the legal techniques used the to evade the Supreme Court as a way for “Republican-dominated” legislatures to get around what they don’t agree with. Those who support abortion see the law as an attack on women’s constitutional rights. In tandem, driving services like Uber and Lyft have offered to cover fees for any drivers who are affected by this law, and other states have already tried to pass similar laws, but all have been blocked so far. There were supplications by protesters to block the law until its legality was confirmed, and on Sept. 15, the Supreme Court confirmed it. The House is scheduled to vote on the Women’s Health Reproductive Act later in the month, and Mississippi’s attempt to pass a law banning abortions after five weeks will be heard Oct. 2.
In the middle of the political firestorm, the Dordt University community is considering the law’s ramifications.
Joya Breems, a sophomore, said, “…as a Christian who is a voter, it’s really hard. In all honesty, I think the Texas law has great intentions, but it’s not going to prevent abortions like we think it will unless it is accompanied with additional social policies that help mothers bring their pregnancies to term. By limiting abortions without provided welfare or food stamps or childcare subsidies, you’re honestly making the situation worse for the desperate mothers because their options are so limited.”
When asked the Christian response should be, she said, “as Christians, we need to be loving to the whole situation. There’s not one Christian answer. For me, the most Christian thing you can do is love.”