It’s a scary thought to imagine living in Texas these days.
If you are a Texan and you feel you need protection from physical harm, it’s relatively easy to purchase and carry a gun. But what if you are a woman and you want to protect your rights?
The Texas legislature has decided that once a woman is six weeks pregnant and a fetal heartbeat can be detected, her body is no longer under her control. It doesn’t matter if she was a victim of incest or rape. It doesn’t matter if her mental or physical health is at risk. Her personal freedom and the right to protect herself from harm is irrelevant to the majority of state legislators in Texas. It doesn’t matter to them, because in their eyes she no longer has the standing to decide the future of her body. She’s just a container, and the beating heart inside is what counts.
I’m not a constitutional scholar by any stretch of the imagination, but it seems to me that due process as expressed in the fourteenth amendment of the United States constitution just got trampled over by a group of ultra conservative legislators in Texas. Doesn’t the fourteenth amendment state, “No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.”
Meanwhile, the majority of Supreme Court Justices are letting the Texas law stand, because their religious beliefs align with the idea that once an egg is fertilized, regardless of viability outside the womb, that life is sacred. The United States was founded on the idea that there be a separation of church and state. Not so anymore.
Even more insidious, is who is going to enforce this new law? It’s expressly not going to be the police or officers of the court because the Texas law states, and I quote, “ any person, other than an officer or employee of a state or local government entity in this state, may bring civil action against any person who: (1) performs or induces an abortion in violation of this subchapter;” In subsequent language the bill expresses that private citizens can bring civil action against anyone who helps aid someone in the process of obtaining an abortion after the six-week mark. This means that in theory, anyone who sets up a ride service to transport women to New Mexico to enable them to possibly obtain an abortion, could in theory be sued by another citizen for their actions.
Not only are the accusers’ court costs and legal fees taken care of, but they are paid a $10,000 bounty fee as a reward for their help in enforcing said law.
The whole concept sets up a dystopian society of spies for the pro-life movement that will reward nefarious behavior. And this idea of having private citizens be the law enforcers, is being studied by other states who are considering enacting similar legislation. Our society is already painfully divided between those who believe in the vaccines vs. those who do not, those who are willing to wear masks and those who refuse to wear masks, as well as those who recognize the peril of global warming and those who do not. The list goes on and the most obvious divide is the one between the rich and the poor, the haves and the have nots. Women, without the financial means to pay for and access healthcare because they are spending long hours working and caring for dependents, will be the ones most severely impacted by this legislation.
While they may try to reassure themselves that they are merely doing what they think is “God’s Work,” the Texas citizens taking on the role of “law enforcers” will be operating like members of the Gestapo or KGB. Whether they will admit it or not, they will be benefitting financially by preying on the weak and the poor.
A woman’s womb is her own. It does not belong to society. Decisions connected to pregnancy are personal decisions, they are not the business of the state nor the business of neighbors or members of the clergy.
This is a sad week, a sad day for America. We are going down a path that will further divide us, at a time we need to look for ways to knit our nation back together as we continue to battle a pandemic and a stressed world succumbing to overuse and pollution.
Despite the efforts of many state legislatures to restrict access to the voting polls, it’s important that everyone who cares about justice, personal freedom, and democracy continue to vote and encourage others to do the same.