Texas Is Violating Health Care Rights: What You Can Do To Help


Texas protesters marching down Congress Ave, outside the state capitol. (Sergio Flores, Rolling Stones)

“Barbaric.” “A huge step backwards.” “Are we living in a dystopia?” This is what Lakeside students think of Texas’s Senate Bill 8 also known as the Heartbeat Bill which went into effect on September 1st, 2021. SB 8 effectively prohibits all abortions six weeks after conception (when the embryo is the size of a grain of rice), before most people even know that they are pregnant. The law makes no exceptions for sexual assault or incest, and medical exceptions are purposefully narrow. Although the response to Texas’s SB 8 has been mixed, the loudest voices have been from those criticizing it. Many Lakeside students fall into that category.

First, it is essential to clarify the language surrounding abortion. Abortion laws affect transgender men and non-binary people as well as cisgender women. To encapsulate the wider scope of people who can get pregnant, the term “menstruating people” will be used throughout this article. 

What makes this ban different from the many others that have been deemed unconstitutional under Roe v. Wade is who will be enforcing it. Instead of government officials, private citizens are now encouraged to pursue legal action against those who provide abortions or “aid or abet” individuals who seek abortions, with the possibility of a $10,000 reward. Uber drivers who unsuspectingly drive someone to get an abortion, doctors who perform the operations, and anyone who offers monetary support to an abortion patient are now at risk of legal repercussions. Essentially, Texas is deputizing civilians on a mass scale to avoid conflict with Roe v. Wade, which only explicitly prevents “excessive government restriction” on abortions. Since law enforcement will not be directly restricting access to abortion, the two do not explicitly conflict. Because of this tactical maneuver, the Supreme Court refused to interfere with its enactment in a 5-4 vote. Immediately after SB 8 was put into effect on September 1st, the number of abortion procedures performed in Texas is estimated to have decreased by 85%.

It is easy to feel powerless and enraged while watching the rights of menstruating people be stripped away by a band of misogynists, but it is essential to take action.”

This ban not only encroaches on menstruating people’s freedom to choose when to have a child but also poses a direct threat to their safety. SB 8 will not prevent people from seeking abortions in Texas; it will only prevent safe abortions performed by trained medical professionals. Affluent individuals who have the ability to go out of state will do so, but many others will seek dangerous alternatives. Unsafe or “back-alley” abortions were common before the enactment of Roe v. Wade and unfortunately may become so again.

With all the attempts both successful and failed to overturn abortion protection laws in the country in the recent past, many Lakeside students are feeling overwhelmed. Almost every response to a question asking students about their thoughts on SB 8 in the Tatler poll exhibits two emotions: rage and terror. “At a time when science and most of the world is moving in the opposite direction, it is incredible that Texas has decided to regress,” says one freshman. When asked about the future of abortion, 55.4% of Tatler poll respondents say they are worried about potential access to abortion in the future. Florida, Georgia, and many other predominantly Republican states may soon follow Texas’s lead, nullifying the rights that Roe v. Wade is supposed to protect. It is easy to feel powerless and enraged while watching the rights of menstruating people be stripped away by a band of misogynists, but it is essential to take action.   

Right now, there is a lot you can do to help defend the rights of menstruating people. First and foremost, stay informed. The websites for Planned Parenthood, the American Civil Liberties Union, and the National Organization for Women are great resources if you want to learn more. Once you have done that, spread the word. Sign petitions and open letters, post on social media, and call representatives. Planned Parenthood is currently offering a platform to volunteer virtually through phone or text banking, which is an ideal option in the midst of the pandemic. Additionally, a list on The Strategist website includes other organizations fighting this ban.

At the end of the day, this abortion ban is blatant misogyny meant to control menstruating people and their bodies. You should be angry. Hopefully, you now feel better educated and equipped to channel that rage into activism.