Texas Abortion Bill: From Both sides of the Controversial Debate


The Texas Heartbeat Bill has been making the headlines since it was passed. From both a pro-life and pro-choice stance, questions are being asked and outrage is being shared. Photo by Gabby Burgess.

Gabby Burgess & Liam Karp, Feature Editor & Reoprter

Just the Facts

The Texas Senate Bill 8 (SB8) also known as the Heartbeat Law, has been underway in Texas since March of this year. On  September 1st it officially went into effect. This law was introduced by Texas senator Bryan Hughes. Just a day after its enactment the Biden Administration requested that the supreme court block this law on behalf of the federal government as it goes against previous supreme court precedents. This request was declined in a 5-4 ruling allowing the law to still be active in the Texas justice system. However, the federal government is still actively working to block this law.   

Tensions are high in the US Supreme Court as the executive branch pushes for a block on Texas ever noteworthy Heartbeat Law. Photo Courtesy of MCT Direct. (Photo by TNS)

All abortions after 6 weeks are banned. Anyone who aids in the process of a woman getting an abortion after six weeks can get sued. However, it will not be prosecutors or government agents who bring you to court, rather it will be ordinary citizens. In a rare and unprecedented move, Texas lawmakers have suddenly given each and every person in and out of the state of Texas a new job. They have become the “prosecutors” and “abortion bounty hunters.” Indeed, in a move unlike any other seen in the history of the United States, Texas, has now given ordinary citizens judiciary power, and the power to hunt down women who either get or attempt to get an abortion. While the woman who wants an abortion cannot get sued, anyone who aids or abets in the process can. These “abortion bounty hunters” have the power to then sue all who allegedly aid in this abortion process in violation of the law, for no less than $10,000. The plaintiff also has the right to ask the defendants to pay for his or her legal fees as well. The extent to which one can sue is even more shocking. The bill paves a path for the “abortion bounty hunters” to sue your uber or taxi driver, the person who performed the procedure, and anyone who gave you money to help with this process, even if the money was merely used to pay for the car ride to the hospital. 

Pro-Choice Opinion

Liam Karp

The Texas Senate Bill 8 (SB8) is a miscarriage of justice. When the Supreme Court in a 5-4 ruling, upheld Texas’ bill banning all abortions after six weeks, people were right to be mad. Whether or not we really want the federal government dictating what a woman can or cannot do with her body is just one of many things we should all be concerned about when it comes to this bill that essentially bans all abortions in the state of Texas, and sets a scary legal precedent for the future. 


First, I would like to make clear that when it comes to abortion, I do believe an all-out ban, no matter the circumstances, is blatantly unconstitutional, and a violation of women’s rights. Abortion is a difficult topic for most, and with the complexity of such a topic, I do not have a definitive set of views I can clearly state. However, I can say that I stand behind the Roe standard and the balancing test. In being a firm believer in the Constitution, I think it is important to point out how this recent decision speaks more to certain political beliefs than the rule of law and ignores the clear record the courts have set when deciding abortion cases in the past. 


Thus, to better understand the circumstances surrounding the outrage at the courts for upholding this bill, one has to first understand what this bill actually does. 


Women from the University of Texas protested the bill at the Texas Capitol on September 1st, 2021. Photo courtesy of MCT Direct. (Photo by TNS)

In substance, this bill bans all abortions after six weeks, making it extremely difficult for anyone to even take the proper steps to set up a time to have this procedure done; so as to not come in conflict with the six-week time period they have been given. Making this process increasingly more difficult, many providers are hesitant to perform these procedures after the enactment of this bill as they risk being sued should the women be more than six weeks pregnant-even if that fact was unknown by the doctor or those who allegedly aided and abetted in the process. This bill also remains rather broad and lacks specificity. For example, to what extent does this new law apply? Does your employer giving you your paycheck, and you then using that money to get an abortion (after 6 weeks) mean that they will end up at risk for getting sued? Has one aided in this process by flagging down a taxi for the woman, or helping her into the car that will take her to the procedure? If a woman performs an at-home abortion and acts as her own doctor, is she now culpable to get sued if the at-home procedure was done after 6 weeks? Among the many questions that remain unanswered about this bill, it remains clear that the process to get an abortion in Texas is now extremely onerous, and practically impossible, which has only been exacerbated by the extremely broad nature surrounding this bill.


Further, this law’s method of enforcement is through ordinary citizens, not the federal government. In essence, women who wish to receive an abortion now have to fear their neighbors, friends, family members, or any other ordinary citizen for that matter, as they can sue anyone involved in providing or facilitating her abortion if it is after 6 weeks.  Of course, this was a clear attempt by Texas lawmakers to skirt around the law. While this method of enforcement is not necessarily new, it remains unique in the sense that in this case, only private citizens can enforce this law, leaving out any and all government agencies like law enforcement or prosecutors. This once again proves the little respect Texas and its lawmakers have for the rule of law, freedom of choice, and the Constitution. 


As Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor noted in her dissent, “No federal appellate court has upheld such a comprehensive prohibition on abortions before viability under current law. The Texas Legislature was well aware of this binding precedent. To circumvent it, the Legislature took the extraordinary step of enlisting private citizens to do what the State could not.”


The Texas abortion bill does not have an exception for instances of rape or incest either. The bill does not allow a woman who got pregnant after being raped to get an abortion if it is after six weeks. The rapist can however sue anyone who helps his victim get an abortion, and make them pay for his legal fees too. Ironically this bill is a so-called attempt to protect life, yet it allows shameless monsters to further exploit and add to the already traumatizing experience of being raped. If Texas really cared about protecting life as they claim, then they would have made a bill that protects all women, their liberty, right to privacy, and their subsequent right to choose what they want to do with their bodies without excessive government restrictions. 


It was a sad day for justice and women throughout Texas when the cowardly Supreme Court copped out to the mob in their decision deeming the SB8 bill constitutional. Ignoring the red flags, and prior legal precedent, the Supreme Court, in a mere 12 page ruling sided with the state of Texas and upheld the bill. 


One does not need to look any further into this case to understand what has happened here: So-called fair and impartial judges, in the supposedly unbiased Supreme Court, who are supposed to set aside all outside noise and internal biases; seem to have allowed their own opinions, emotions, and political beliefs dictate their ruling in this matter and run rampant; even if it means ignoring the plain as day facts that anyone with two eyes can clearly see and read. Yet today here we sit, with this unconstitutional bill sustained. The court system is supposed to be “blind”, however, the Supreme Court justices took “blind” to a whole new level. It appears that they obviously acted without looking at the facts of this matter. Quite ironically the “heartbeat bill” presumably led to many heartbeats stopping at the shock of such an egregious and dangerous ruling. In this matter, one thing said can be true, and that is that the courts fell short on their obligation to protect the rights of all people and due justice. I remain confident that if people with no prior legal background can understand how unconstitutional this bill is, then the justices in the Supreme Court, all of whom graduated from top tier schools probably realized this too, but clearly ignored what they knew deep down should have been done. 


The courts completely ignored prior precedent when making their decision, specifically the landmark cases Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey. One cannot simply say either case was on shaky grounds either, as this bill and the subsequent case that went to the Supreme Court was not a case challenging Roe or Casey. Therefore the Supreme Court had no right to simply sweep those cases under the rug. When taking these two cases into account it would make perfect sense both logically and legally that this bill should have been shot down. In the Supreme Court case, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, Julie Rikelman argued on behalf of Whole Woman’s Health that “… In Casey, this Court carefully examined and rejected every possible reason for overruling Roe, holding that a woman’s right to end a pregnancy before viability was a rule of law and a component of liberty it could not renounce. The question then is not whether Roe should be overturned but whether Casey was egregiously wrong to adhere to Roe’s central holding. Second, Casey and Roe were correct. For a state to take control of a woman’s body and demand that she go through pregnancy and childbirth with all the physical risks and life-altering consequences that brings is a fundamental deprivation of her liberty. Preserving a woman’s right to make this decision until viability preserve — protects her liberty while logically balancing the other interests at stake,” according to Supreme Court transcripts. 


The Roe standard makes clear that the Constitution of the United States, protects all pregnant women’s liberty to choose to have an abortion “without excessive government restrictions.” Further, a woman’s right to privacy extends to the unborn fetus she is carrying. Under the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, women have a right to privacy, which in turn protects a women’s liberty to chose whether or not she wants to have an abortion. In the Roe decision, the courts created a “balancing test”, in which they noted that in “the first trimester, governments could not prohibit abortions at all; during the second trimester, governments could require reasonable health regulations; during the third trimester, abortions could be prohibited entirely so long as the laws contained exceptions for cases when they were necessary to save the life or health of the mother. The Court classified the right to choose to have an abortion as “fundamental”, which required courts to evaluate challenged abortion laws under the “strict scrutiny” standard, the highest level of judicial review in the United States,” according to Wikipedia. 


The sudden zeal by the courts and others to uphold such a controversial bill that ignores some of the most important and basic facts and principles is deeply troubling. The courts have heard a multitude of cases challenging Roe and precedent alike, but each and every time the courts have rejected those arguments, as a result of prior rulings like Roe. However, suddenly here, that appears to not be the case. The courts worked to please those who obviously have no real understanding of the Constitution, and the rights given to us in this document; however, in doing so the courts compromised its standards and far exceeded the authority given to it. 


In a challenge to this bill, another court reversed the prior ruling. U.S. Federal District Court Judge Robert L. Pitman, in a 113-page ruling, much better fit for such a complex case like this, found that the court’s prior ruling was unconstitutional and simply wrong. He ended up allowing a two-day extension for women to get abortions. However, in a late-night appeal, the second decision putting a stay on this bill was overturned; making abortions once again illegal if you are more than six weeks pregnant. 


A woman making the decision to have an abortion is one that is not taken lightly. Coupled with the potential backlash one might receive from the public and their own families for deciding to have one, making this decision is very difficult from the start. However, Texas had no right to make the decision for all women themselves, they lacked the grounds and rights to do so. We do not all have to support abortion and agree a hundred percent with everyone’s views, but one thing we should all agree upon is upholding the rule of law. Putting aside whether you are pro-life or pro-choice, one should be able to realize that in this bill and ruling, women’s rights were stripped, the rule of law was ignored, and the Constitution was essentially ripped to shreds by the most powerful and important court in our land. 


Today we must look back to the wise words of the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, in which she stated “The decision on whether or not to bear a child is central to a woman’s life, to her well-being and dignity. It is a decision she must make herself. When the government controls that decision for her, she is being treated as less than a fully adult human responsible for her own choices”. 

Pro-Life Opinion

Gabby Burgess

Nearly 55,000 people being murdered within one year would be considered a mass murder, some may even call it a genocide. However, these lives are not valued under our countries constitution, despite multiple different amendments calling for equal rights and protection, alongside our country’s Declaration of Independence calling for the right to life. Yet our country chooses to undervalue these words on a daily basis. With the dozens of states that allow abortion, to the decision of Roe v. Wade, we undervalue millions of lives each and every year. The so-called Heartbeat Bill was created in an attempt to save these innocent lives, however, in the process, it undermined that of women throughout the state.


Before we dive into the injustice of abortion and the necessity of more regulation, similar to that of the Heartbeat Bill, I would like to clearly state that I do think this Bill needs some extreme revisions before it should be fully implemented. I think the aspect of having untrained citizens be “abortion bounty hunters” is absurd, I believe laws should be enforced by government officials, especially in civil cases such as this one. However, the concept of banning any and all abortion after 6 weeks, except in extreme conditions, I fully feldgedly support.


Once sperm and an egg combine they become an embryo, basic biology. Biology, the study of life. An embryo is living, it is a human life from the moment of conception. Last year in Texas, even under their strict regulations before the Heartbeat Bill, nearly 55,000 babies were murdered through abortion. 55,000 lives, 55,000 future leaders, 55,000 future teachers, 55,000 future children, were legally slaughtered without a chance of defense. They had no choice, no way to scream for help, no way to escape, no way to ask someone to speak up for them, all while thousands of our government officials stood in support of their killer’s “right” to play God. Allowing both the mother and doctor alike to decide who is and isn’t worthy of life. 


Many have spoken out against this bill saying it contradicts previous court rulings, and in all honesty, it does, but this is not a new precedent and has happened countless times throughout our countries history, especially when it is a necessity in order to protect human rights and equality. This is a legal precedent in which the court disagrees with a previous decision ruling against its precedent in order for a new and necessary decision to be made. Therefore should the supreme court overturn the decision of Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, because while every human being has their right to privacy, as proven within these rulings, they also must respect the right to privacy of the unborn, yet they exploit them through one of the most invasive and torturous medical processes there is. 


Many have called this Bill a war against woman’s rights under the premise that it limits their freedom (especially those who became pregnant involuntarily) over their reproductive organs. I understand the reasoning behind this point, if a woman was forcibly impregnated then why should she have to deal with the outcome as a victim of rape. This is true, but in these situations, there are not one but two victims of rape. The woman, and the unborn. That child from its conception is deemed a “rape baby” they were never offered the chance of normalcy that other children receive when they are conceived willingly but are faced with the haunting legacy of their biological father’s disgusting past. Who are we to decide that they are less than any other child, who are their mothers to decide that their life doesn’t matter just because of the way it came about. Countless numbers have heard our mothers use those ever frightening words “I brought you into this world, and I can take you out,” and thought to ourselves that there was no way this would actually happen. After all, it’s murder, and no one that cares about us would ever let us face that reality, plus it’s illegal. For us who were born that’s true, for those who haven’t reached that point yet this protection is no longer viable. At least that’s what our constitution says. 


I also would like to restate that the Heartbeat Bill needs revision, especially in the fact that it allows and almost encourages rapists to sue their victims who have received illegal abortions. If you ask me, a rapist should lose their rights to freedom and be in jail for the rest of their lives and have no rights or power of their victims whatsoever.


The idea of the bill, banning abortion, I have no problem with. I do however have a problem with how this bill is being used to oppress and exploit those affected by rape and unplanned pregnancy. How the state of Texas, with little restriction, is expecting the citizens to enforce this Bill rather than their own government officials for which the community pays tax dollars to support. This bill needs to be completely rewritten. While it should continue with the abortion ban, it should also respect the victims which it currently oppresses. While murder is a crime, so is the violation of a woman in the worst sense. Rape is an emotionally traumatizing event and the Texas leaders should be working to protect the victims of said crime, rather they are removing the last shred of hope said victims have that their assailant would receive a just punishment.


Abortion is murder. Murder is illegal except for these unborn lives in the majority of states throughout the US. The Heartbeat Bill with the intent to restrict this, in the process it left room for the oppression of millions of rape victims throughout the state. Banning abortion after six weeks is necessary and should be implemented, untrained citizens playing cop and sex offenders suing their victims should not. We need to protect all lives, all victims. This is a non-negotiable right that our country needs to ensure for all of its citizens. No matter their past, no matter their age, no matter their stage of life. If there is a living citizen in our country, our government needs to protect it as they have sworn to do. The Heartbeat Bill is a direct violation of that.


The following graphic compares the supreme court cases of Roe v. Wade and the blocking of the Texas Heartbeat Bill. Graphic by Gabby Burgess

In researching the Supreme Courts’ decision I became more and more outraged with the lack of effort and thought that was put into the decision not to block the law. There are many factors that play into this opinion, but the one that truly makes or breaks it was the writing of the majority opinion. The Majority Opinion was a singular paragraph. The same length as a short response answer on the countless test we’ve taken was used to defend one of the most controversial Supreme Court decisions in history. On top of that, it was left unsigned. Maybe this was a way to avoid clap-back for their argument, but either way, the quality, and effort of this argument was absolutely appalling and reason enough for me to not agree with the court’s decision.


The Heartbeat Bill was not blocked by the US Supreme Court in a 5-4 voting, however, the court’s ruling left many loopholes that abortion providers could use in an attempt to sue Texas for their actions. All eyes are fixed on Texas and its controversial bill as it awaits final approval to be declared a law. Before this happens the state needs to drastically revise this policy, ensuring that the law is enforced only by government officials and leaves no room the harassment of rape victims by their opressrs. Despite how far we have come woman’s rights is still a work in process in our country, and this law, while it appears to have the intent of protecting human life, needs to rethink who’s rights are being repealled  in the process. All lives need to be protected, mother and unborn alike, and for this law to gain my support, it needs to be heavily revised to ensure no one party is suffering becasue of a poor decision or lack of effort on the state’s behalf.