Texas abortion laws: Pandemic to now

Recently, one of the biggest controversies flooding American lawmakers offices has been the debate on abortion. In recent years and especially in the last many months, Texas has been passing bills that make it harder for a woman to get an abortion. Throughout the pandemic, as many were suffering from Covid-19, Texas was continuing to pass bills against abortions. If the most recent bills are approved by the House to become a law, it will be almost impossible for a woman to get an abortion in the state, and illegal for a doctor to perform one.

During February through May of last year, when most of the nation was in lockdown, Texas officials tried to ban abortions, their reason being to save equipment for the pandemic. Governor Greg Abbott ordered that all abortions that were not ¨medically necessary¨ were to come to a halt. This request went to the Supreme Court, as many abortion providers were furious with this new predicament. They believed this order was unconstitutional, and representatives from Planned Parenthood and the Center for Reproductive Rights argued the same point, trying to persuade lawmakers into at least continuing the pill to induce abortions.

At first, the majority of the Supreme Court decided to keep most of the Governor’s orders as long as there was actual reasoning regarding the pandemic and it wasn´t just an excuse to violate human rights. At this time, most women in Texas were getting abortions through pills that required no equipment. This caused many abortion providers to disagree with this order, as the pill was the only oral medication that was banned, even though it required no ¨protective equipment.¨  They stated that delaying a woman from getting an abortion was ridiculous, as it would mean that she would have to get it later on, possibly having to travel out of state to endure a much more invasive procedure.

In April of 2020, however, Texas officials abandoned their fight to include abortions in the list of medical procedures that were postponed due to the pandemic. Lawyers had argued that these lawmakers were using the pandemic to pursue their own political agenda.

That all took place during the spring of 2020, yet new bills are still being drafted today. As of late March 2021, five new bills were drafted restricting access to an abortion. These new orders include banning abortions after fetal heartbeats have been detected, with no exception for rape or incest, and allowing for any Texas citizen to sue an abortion provider. If the Supreme Court ruling on Roe vs. Wade, a 1973 court case protecting a pregnant woman´s freedom to have an abortion without excess government interference, is overturned, then nearly all abortions could be banned. Along with that, abortion providers risk being fined up to $100,000, when the fine for sexual assault is only $10,000.

Another bill waiting to be passed restricts how late a woman can get a pill-induced abortion, which actually goes against guidelines from the Food and Drug administration. Since almost 40% of Texas abortions performed are medication-induced, this law would greatly affect women trying to get an abortion.

With the potential passing of these laws, women and abortion providers in Texas are anxiously waiting for the outcome of these controversial bills–decisions that could affect their entire future.