It’s Time to Mess with Texas
Most laws over the millennium have been written by men. We know the Koran was authored by a man, and no one has ever proved that any portion of the Holy Bible was written by a woman. Even here in the most celebrated democracy on Earth, we didn’t allow women to vote until the 19th Amendment in 1920.
Many believe the first induced abortion took place in Egypt in 1550 BCE. Most of the methods back then were, thank goodness, non-surgical. To end the pregnancy, a woman was made to do strenuous labor such as climbing, lifting heavy weights or diving off high cliffs into water. If none of that worked, a woman might have been paddled into miscarriage.
Over the centuries, men have used abortion to punish women. Perhaps dissatisfied with not getting a male baby or as a means to control population, there were times a man demanded that a woman have an abortion.
Views concerning the morality of abortions have ebbed and flowed over time. It is said that the Stoics believed a fetus to be plantlike in nature and not an animal until the moment of birth when it finally breathed air. The Stoics found abortion to be morally acceptable. Aristotle believed the line between a lawful and unlawful abortion was marked by the fetus having sensation — feelings. It’s has not been determined if a fetus can experience pain. Experimenting with an unborn human is simply too dangerous.
So, the abortion debate has raged for a long time. Does life begin when a sperm penetrates and fertilizes an egg or eggs, does it take place when the first heartbeat can be detected either acoustically or technically, or is life launched with the baby’s first breath and that reassuring wail?
For Christians and Jews, the Holy Bible (Exodus 21:22–24) describes two men fighting, one of whose wife is pregnant. If she is struck during the fight and the result is a miscarriage, the perpetrator is fined. If she dies, however, the perpetrator must forfeit his life according to the law of “a life for a life.”
It’s more complicated for those of the Islamic faith. The Quran does not directly address intentional abortion, leaving greater discretion to the laws of individual countries. According to the Hadith, written by scholars after the Prophet’s death, the fetus is believed to become a living soul after 120 days of gestation. Abortion after that point is impermissible. Remember that number. We will come back to it.
This brings us to the new, highly controversial and poorly conceived (pun intended) Texas law named H.B. No. 1515, or what has been painfully called the “Texas Heartbeat Act.” This bill was written by the Texas State House of Representatives to solve a problem those people have with the 1973 Supreme Court’s decision in the Roe v. Wade case. The new bill clearly states that none of Texas’ laws against abortion were rescinded after the Court’s decision in that landmark case. This territorial dig has nothing to do with law, but the bill goes on to say that unless a mother’s life is in danger no abortion should ever occur in the Lone Star State. They are unabashed and very clear that their real aim is to have the Roe v. Wade decision overturned so they can be as restrictive as they want concerning abortions in their state. Their intent is written in black and white.
READ THE WHOLE LAW: HB01515I.PDF
I’ll cut to the chase here. The new Texas law basically says that no one can perform an abortion or aid or abet another performing an abortion after six weeks of pregnancy and/or after a heartbeat is detected. And get this, the audio of that heartbeat must be played to the mother while she undergoes a lecture on probability of fetus survival. It’s incredibly arcane for the state to codify interference in the relationship between doctor and patient.
If an abortion is performed in Texas after six weeks, it’s not the woman who can be sued, but those involved any way in the effort. One example is an Uber driver being liable if he transports a woman to her clinic for an abortion. It’s only a $10,000 award to the snitch, but the involved person must also pay the legal fees of the accuser. A vindictive part of this law states that a defendant who is found innocent in the court case cannot retrieve any fees from the person suing or the court. That’s a one-way street most state law looks down upon. As Jia Tolentino said in The New Yorker, this is nothing more than a “diabolical bounty structure.”
The law awards all state officials and employees sovereignty, meaning they are protected from any legal action brought on by this law. They can mess up someone’s life by outing them, cursing them or belittling them on television or social media, and the maligned person has no recourse to stop them or right the injustice. There’s no injunctive relief allowed. What country do we live in? Did the Supreme Court even read it?
The new law has a list of all the things that a doctor or medical professional must place into their records. The law has no “off the record” provision, which flies in the face of current federal HIPPA regulations which clearly state, “No agency shall disclose any record which is contained in a system of records by any means of communication to any person, or to another agency, except pursuant to a written request by, or with the prior written consent of the individual to whom the record pertains; subject to 12 exceptions.” 5 U.S.C. § 552a(b). If you would like to examine the letter of the law you can find it here.
Part of the propaganda element of this Texas law is a demand that the physician turn pro-active preacher and disclose certain information. Before they perform the procedure, the doctor must disclose his or her identify. There may be no secret doctors. They must state the medical risks when performing the procedure, such as the possibilities of infection, hemorrhage or future infertility. Now comes the topper. The law demands the doctor state that abortions carry a potential of breast cancer risks because of the “natural protective effect of completed pregnancy.” This is demonstrably not true. When the determining factor in cancer cases are genetically linked, abortions are not a factor. Some experts believe women who have recently given birth may actually have an increased risk of developing breast cancer. The state is just trying to scare the patients, which is in fact, “doing harm.”
The law states that, “medical assistance benefits may be available for prenatal care, childbirth, and neonatal care…” and then it declares, “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.” What a strange thing to code into law.
Nowhere is there any mention of a “father” until we get to this part about an obligation to support the child. How is this possible? I am sure there are some Texas common laws that cover a biological father’s liabilities, but if the man is not married to his pregnant companion and he paid for an abortion there would be no need to support a child. Think about this incredible, diabolical loophole in the law. If the man who impregnated the women pays for her abortion or drives her to the procedure, he could be sued by the woman who got the abortion. If she wasn’t a state employee or official, she could maneuver the law to create a business? Remember, the boyfriend would have to pay all her legal fees. If the judge found for the plaintiff, the woman could get a payment of up to $10,000 from the sperm donor.
Not only does the state want to see all the patient’s records in the doctor’s files, but they demand to know the where the patient lives, her year of birth, her marital status and her race. There’s certainly no privacy in this draconian law, but race information? What is that all about?
We see this all-caps paragraph pop out on page 21 of the 23-page Texas law: (my bold)
(6) I UNDERSTAND THAT I AM REQUIRED BY LAW TO HEAR AN EXPLANATION OF THE SONOGRAM IMAGES UNLESS I CERTIFY IN WRITING TO ONE OF THE FOLLOWING:
___ I AM PREGNANT AS A RESULT OF A SEXUAL ASSAULT, INCEST, OR OTHER VIOLATION OF THE TEXAS PENAL CODE THAT HAS BEEN REPORTED TO LAW ENFORCEMENT AUTHORITIES OR THAT HAS NOT BEEN REPORTED BECAUSE I REASONABLY BELIEVE THAT DOING SO WOULD PUT ME AT RISK OF RETALIATION RESULTING IN SERIOUS BODILY INJURY.
___ I AM A MINOR AND OBTAINING AN ABORTION IN ACCORDANCE WITH JUDICIAL BYPASS PROCEDURES UNDER CHAPTER 33, TEXAS FAMILY CODE.
___ MY UNBORN CHILD [FETUS] HAS AN IRREVERSIBLE MEDICAL CONDITION OR ABNORMALITY, AS IDENTIFIED BY RELIABLE DIAGNOSTIC PROCEDURES AND DOCUMENTED IN MY MEDICAL FILE.
(7) I AM MAKING THIS ELECTION OF MY OWN FREE WILL AND WITHOUT COERCION.
It’s revealing how they throw this in near the end. It’s an attempt to keep this new law semi-kosher with some pre-existing laws. But those are not exemptions to whether you can get an abortion, these are exemptions from seeing the sonogram images or hearing the whole anti-abortion pitch from a doctor. These points reveal a distinction in how a woman was impregnated or the potential of a miscarriage because of a medical condition of the fetus. Nowhere do they state a more in-depth examination of the fetus is needed to determine this.
Chapter 33 of the Texas Family Code provides for judicial authorization of an unemancipated minor to consent to an abortion in Texas without notice to, or the consent of, a parent, managing conservator, or guardian. REALLY? Yes, such an abortion must happen before six weeks of gestation or before a heartbeat is detected, but it’s crazy that Texas has such a law. This puts the decision of abortion in the hands of a judge! A kind of death panel of one.
If it was so important to include “sexual assault, incest or other violation of the Texas penal code,” in this section, why didn’t they spell this out in the rules of the game at the very beginning? They needed to make it clear that certain parts of what a woman had to be told would change if an assault, incest or other violations were involved in the pregnancy. It’s clear their intent was no exceptions because the law doesn’t mention “sexual assault, incent or other violation of the Texas penal code” are excluded.
CONCLUSIONS: First, I began with the history of abortion for a reason. Men tend to disregard the potential trouble their sperm can cause for a woman, and they write laws as if they had nothing to do with the dilemma of an unwanted child. Why is there no law that demands a man to control or preserve that life giving fluid? This myopic morality seems so misogynistic that women in Austin should be burning their bras. And Texas men, are you ready to have your sperm DNA tested so that your life-giving seed can be put in a database? Hey, don’t laugh.
Hey, I am not a lawyer or legal scholar, but shouldn’t laws be written in a way that people can read and understand them? It’s wrong to say that “not comprehending a law” is not an excuse for breaking it when that law has been written in such a way that a person cannot grasp its reason for existence.
And finally, let’s consider this: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…” So, Muslim religious law states that an abortion before 120 days, or 17 weeks is allowed, why then does the state of Texas violate the law of one of the world’s largest religions? I am totally amazed no one has mentioned this before and why not challenge the law based on the First Amendment? Where is the Supreme Court?
FACT: it seems pretty clear that the cost of an abortion in Texas is now $10,000. And the money goes to tattle tells?
We had late breaking news on September 6, 2021, Labor Day, when Attorney General of the United States Merrick Garland released a statement that the Department of Justice will use the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act to protect those who seek an abortion in Texas. He’s already reached out to the US Attorney’s offices and said the FBI could get involved. So, you see, there are ways to fight an unjust, unconstitutional law.
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