Texas continues anti-abortion crusade with new proposed law on late-term abortion
The election of Donald Trump has left many progressive activists afraid for the futures of their respective causes, no more so than advocates of the reproductive rights movement. Trump has promised to appoint Supreme Court justice(s) who oppose abortion and could potentially wind up overturning Roe v. Wade. While many doubt this could happen (conservative courts have had numerous opportunities to do so, and declined), as Texas’ latest anti-abortion measure introduced in its state legislature indicates, whether or not Roe is overturned, prepare to watch abortion rights scaled back to the point that the landmark ruling barely matters.
On Tuesday, Republican Representative Matt Schaefer introduced a proposed amendment that would sweepingly ban third trimester abortions, disregarding cases of extreme fetal anomalies and eliminating the protections of the state’s health code, which currently offer parents’ the right to terminate pregnancies where infants are medically almost certain to die after birth. Access to late-term abortion is strongly supported by the medical community, which consistently affirms the safety and necessity of ensuring that the procedure is available.
On a legal level, Roe ensures the right to an abortion until the point of fetal viability, anywhere from 22-25 weeks, but this should ultimately be determined by doctors and women, not state representatives with neither background in reproductive health nor empathy for women and struggling families.
Late-term abortions in the state of Texas are, as you would guess, already regulated under the law, and are available only in cases of pregnancy that threaten the life of the mother or are determined “non-viable” due to extreme fetal anomalies, but Schaefer’s amendment seeks to negate this. The vast majority of abortions take place within the first 21 weeks of a pregnancy. Abortions that take place later are often due to the discovery of extreme conditions that couldn’t be detected earlier in the pregnancy.
No one who has a late-term abortion does so for cheap thrills; it’s often a devastating decision, and taking away this right to impose paternalistic notions of self-righteousness serves to target the most vulnerable. The ultimate hypocrisy of the anti-choice movement is most prominently represented in its opposition to late-term abortions: as it forces women to give birth no matter the circumstances, supposedly to uphold the sanctity of life, it simultaneously opposes funding for health care for the severely impaired and assistance for poor families babies are born into. Frankly nothing highlights this better than vice president-elect Mike Pence, as governor of Indiana, transferring funding for needy families to anti-choice, propaganda-spewing crisis pregnancy centers.
This measure by Schaefer was just proposed to Texas’ state legislature on Tuesday, and whether or not it will pass or be signed by Texas Governor Greg Abbott is to be seen. But it shows that while we’re all justifiably freaking out over the future of abortion rights under a Supreme Court of Trump’s design, there are so many other hits reproductive rights could be taking across the nation, given a green light by arguably the most anti-choice administration in recent history.