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Opinion: The Texas abortion law could set precedent, and that's dangerous

The loophole in the Texas law could threaten the lives and livelihood of people all over the country

salazar_tenore_525_sb1547 for Sept. 12, 2021

The restrictive Texas Heartbeat Act went into effect at the beginning of September. Illustration originally published Thursday, May 25, 2021.

A new Texas abortion law — Senate Bill 8 — recently went into effect, banning all abortions after six weeks of pregnancy, before many people even know they're pregnant. If it spreads to other states, people everywhere could be at risk of losing access to abortions. 

This is a potentially dangerous situation that must be avoided at all costs.

In addition to Texans losing access to legal abortions after six weeks of pregnancy, the law also incentivizes the state's private citizens to come forward and take legal action in civil court, awarding at least $10,000 if that plaintiff is successful in the courtroom.

Texas has found a way to get its citizens to do the dirty work for them, and the U.S. Supreme Court's inaction allowed it to happen.

As a result, thousands of people who need abortions could be denied access, even in cases of rape and incest. It's not only dangerous — it's deadly. According to a 2020 World Health Organization report, between 4.7% – 13.2% of unsafe abortions lead to death.

According to a 2019 report from the Arizona Department of Health Services, 25% of abortions in the state were completed on girls and women aged 15 to 24. Women in their twenties made up nearly half of all abortions in the state, putting college-aged women at a higher risk to be affected.

ASU students should especially be concerned about this new law. Its passage may foretell similar laws in Arizona's future. 

Abortions are the last line of defense for people whose lives would be ruined by the birth of a child. Whether it's economic struggles, health complications, or a matter of maturity and preparedness, there are so many valid reasons why access to abortion needs to be protected. 

The new Texas law and future laws which may emulate it, would make it virtually impossible to obtain an abortion.

"When you factor in the time it takes to confirm a pregnancy, schedule an appointment and comply with all the restrictions politicians have already put in place for patients and providers, a six-week ban essentially bans abortion outright," said Dyana Limon-Mercado, the executive director of Planned Parenthood Texas Votes.

Six weeks oftentimes isn't enough to even determine if a pregnancy has started, let alone enough time to go through all required steps and appointments to obtain that appoint by that deadline. It is clear Texas lawmakers want to be as oppressive and controlling as possible, and they wrote the law to do just that.

As it stands, the new Texas law is in direct violation of Roe v. Wade and other long-standing case precedents, U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland said last week after he announced the Justice Department was suing Texas over the law.

According to Brooks Simpson, a professor of history at the College of Integrative Sciences and the Arts, if Roe is overturned or ignored, "you will see states try very hard to push back the frontier of state interest into the first trimester, which is what the Texas law does, and make second and third trimester abortions illegal."

Already, several other conservative-leaning states have been looking to adopt laws similar to Texas', including Arkansas, Florida, Indiana, Idaho, North Dakota, South Dakota and Oklahoma.

Right now, the Arizona State Legislature is overwhelmingly conservative. However, we can change this. In 2022, Arizonans can once again vote for members of both chambers of the Arizona Legislature, as well as the next governor. We can finally put our votes to good use and elect leaders who will protect not just access to abortion, but other civil liberties too.

If a similar law is considered in Arizona, it is imperative we reject it. 

We must use our voices to convey to lawmakers of the unacceptability of this regulation and limitation. Abortions are useful safety nets for people whose lives would be permanently altered by the presence of a child. The physical, mental and economic stability of our nation's people may depend on us resisting these oppressive laws.

Reach the columnist at or follow @evrim_gulser on Twitter. 

Editor’s note: The opinions presented in this column are the author’s and do not imply any endorsement from The State Press or its editors.

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