Op-Ed Contest: 1st Place– Heart Beats

A pro- abortion protest taking place in attempt to stop anti-abortionists marching to the Texas Captiol. Image courtesy of AP Photo/Eric Gay.

By Leah Kendal (‘24)

On September 1, 2021, the Texas Heart Beat Act was put into action by 82 Republican representatives and one Democrat. This law bans all abortions after a fetal heartbeat has been detected, as early as six weeks into the pregnancy. There is no exception to this ban for pregnancies resulting from incest or rape. Medical professionals deem the name of the bill to be misleading, as embryos do not possess hearts at the developmental stage. In fact, fewer than 23% of women are even aware of their pregnancies at six weeks. 

Private citizens are allowed to enforce this law themselves. Texans are encouraged to report doctors, abortion centers, women seeking abortions, and any known associates of the women seeking abortions to the government. The people reported are subsequently sued for at least 10,000 dollars, in addition to the cost of attorney’s fees. The citizens reporting their peers are then monetarily rewarded for invading their neighbors’ privacy. 

Moving on to the so-called “babies” themselves, at six weeks old, the babies are a cluster of cells. They are embryos without hearts, brains, or lungs. They don’t have feelings or thoughts. The cells in the fully grown, adult, women’s wombs are comparable to nail and hair cells. It can be assured that these Texan politicians cut their hair and nails, so why are these cells in these women’s bodies different? Moreover, the argument against abortion claims to be “pro life,” though what quality of life will the “babies” have if their mothers can’t support them financially? Realistically, the children will end up in the foster care system, which is infamously abhorrent in America. In fact, 25% percent of children who grew up in the American foster care system wind up in jail within two years of turning eighteen, and 80% of inmates in America today were once in the foster care system. In addition, 74.9% of children receiving foster care services are neglected by their foster families. Clearly the system is broken, and the quality of life to be had within it isn’t much of a life at all.

If these male lawmakers cared about preventing unwanted pregnancy, they would get a vasectomy. If they wanted people to have safe sex, they would fund adequate sex education in public schools. If they wanted to prevent abortions, they would increase national access to birth control. If they cared about babies being born into safe environments, they would reform the foster care system. But they don’t. All these men care about is oppressing women and controlling their bodies. This law in Texas turns neighbors into bounty hunters, and doctors into criminals. It makes women making an educated decision about their own bodies out to be “murderers” and fugitives. 

This law in Texas isn’t going to stop abortions from occuring, its simply going to make them harder to access and more dangerous. Women are still going to need abortions, however, now they will be forced to do it without medical supervision. These Texan women will need to do it themselves. Last time abortion was illegal in America, in the year 1973, materials such as hangers, bleach, and small doses of poison were used for at home abortions. Senate Bill 8 isn’t going to stop abortion, it’s going to kill American women.

Judges Commentary

Overall, we appreciated the blunt style and opinionated tone throughout that really demonstrated the passion the author has for the sjubject. The last two paragraphs stood out and were uniquely powerful– asking questions readers did not think to ask, simultaneously addressing counter arguments, and pointing out hypocrisy as the author saw it. In totality, we were impressed by the quality of this piece and we look forward to reading more from this author.

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