Texas has some of the most restrictive abortion laws in the country, but the Abolition of Abortion in Texas Act, authored by Tony Tinderholt, R-Arlington, aims to make performing or receiving an abortion in Texas a felony. Though the bill is certainly intimidating, legal experts say the likelihood of it going into effect are slim to none. Despite this hopeful victory, a less engaged electorate has led to representatives proposing more and more controversial bills which often become law.
Some of the language within this particular bill is concerning and raises additional questions. For instance, the bill states that “a living human child, from the moment of fertilization upon the fusion of a human spermatozoon with a human ovum, is entitled to the same rights, powers, and privileges as are secured or granted by the laws of this state to any other human child.” Does this mean that emergency contraceptives like Plan B will be outlawed as well? Does a woman now need to consider legal representation every time a condom breaks?
The bill’s wording seems to make it so. It also states that a physician is potentially liable for performing an abortion which adheres to current Texas laws. Those same laws have been approved in previous sessions because the public eye was elsewhere, and not enough resistance was voiced. Not all laws evoke the same emotion as this one, which is fine, but if we are going to leave it to our representatives to fight less-impactful bills then we need to select them more carefully.
Without the backing of a group in furious opposition, oftentimes people are unaware of what laws are being created in their backyard. Outrage is not always the best motivator — keep in mind that even the milder bills such as HB 48, which relates to the requirements to vote by mail, deserve our attention.
The likelihood that this iteration of the bill will become law is slim, particularly considering the opposition it faces. According to Tina Hester, executive director of Jane’s Due Process, similar laws have been passed before in Texas that have been challenged all the way to the Supreme Court.
If the law was passed, Hester says it would likely be challenged on its first day. The potential cost of this process is daunting. “It would force our state to yet again spend millions of dollars defending a big waste of taxpayer dollars,” Hester said.
If we are looking to avoid bills like this in the future, there is a simple solution. Without a change in representation, there will be no change in policy. “Unless the legislators themselves change, it won’t change,” said Hester.
Though it is very unlikely that this particular bill will become law, there are plenty others that will. Whether you approve of or oppose those bills, you should know of their existence before hearing of it from an officer.
Marching, protesting, boycotting and fighting for what we believe in is important, but it is not enough. We need to show up when this issue is long resolved — before the next bill is drafted. We need to show up to midterm elections, and pay attention to what our elected officials are doing. Now is the time to look up your representative and inform them of your concerns. Keep that fire in your belly, and the next time we elect a senator they will speak with your voice.
Bonfiglio is a journalism junior from Oak Creek, Colorado. Follow her on Twitter @NahilaBonfiglio.