Introduction 

Roe v. Wade was decided in 1973, currently, over 40 states have enacted laws restricting abortion, including Texas. The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS), is set to hear arguments on the Mississippi abortion case, Dobbs vs. Jackson Women’s Health Organization during the 2021-2022 term which began in October 2021. This will be the first abortion case heard by former President Trump’s 3 conservative appointments to SCOTUS. 6 out of 9 SCOTUS justices have been nominated by conservative presidents. Many expect that the case will limit reproductive rights previously granted in Roe v. Wade, due to the conservative lean to the court. The individual political ideology of each Supreme Court justice may impact how they interpret the law. Please note that I am using non-gender specific words when referring to reproductive rights because people who identify as female are not the only people who have abortions. 

 

Discussion Overview 

On September, 1st, Senate Bill (S.B.) 8 banned abortions after an “embryo’s cardiac activity can be detected” which may be around the sixth week of pregnancy and before many people know that they are pregnant. The bill does not provide exemptions for rape or incest. Texans can still travel out of state to obtain an abortion. However, individuals can sue anyone (up to $10,000 per claim) who “aids or abets” an abortion to a Texas resident, including doctors, nurses, and ride-share drivers. Originally, SCOTUS refused to block the bill in a 5-4 vote. The bill was briefly blocked by a U.S. district court and then appealed by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has asked SCOTUS to halt the bill while it is being litigated. In the application to SCOTUS, the DOJ argued that if the law remains, it “enables Texas’s ongoing nullification of this Court’s precedents and its citizens’ constitutional rights.” 

 

Texas S. B. 8 Quotes

“No freedom is more precious than life itself. Starting today, every unborn child with a heartbeat will be protected from the ravages of abortion. Texas will always defend the right to life.” – Texas Governor Greg Abbott 

“If a fetus is a person at 6 weeks pregnant, is that when the child support starts? Is that also when you can’t deport the mother because she’s carrying a US citizen? Can I insure a 6-week fetus and collect if I miscarry? Just figuring if we’re going there, we should go all in? – Carliss Chatman, Law Professor at Washington and Lee University. 

"The Court’s order is stunning, presented with an application to enjoin a flagrantly unconstitutional law engineered to prohibit women from exercising their constitutional rights and evade judicial scrutiny, a majority of Justices have opted to bury their heads in the sand.” – U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor  

“We believe in equal opportunity, equal justice, and equal treatment for citizens of every race, background, religion, and creed. Every child, of every color – born and unborn – is made in the holy image of God.” – Former President Donald Trump 

 

Data/Polls on Texas Abortions 

“There was a 3% decline in the abortion rate in Texas between 2014 and 2017, from 9.8 to 9.4 abortions per 1,000 women of reproductive age. Abortions in Texas represent 6.4% of all abortions in the United States.”

“In 2017, some 96% of Texas counties had no clinics that provided abortions, and 43% of Texas women lived in those counties.” 

Guttmacher Institute. (n.d.). State Facts About Abortion: Texas. https://www.guttmacher.org/fact-sheet/state-facts-about-abortion-texas# 

Based on a University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll, “In this latest poll, 13% said abortion should never be permitted; 31% said “the law should permit abortion only in case of rape, incest or when the woman’s life is in danger"; 12% said it should also be allowed in other cases, “but only after the need for the abortion has been clearly established”; and 38% said “a woman should always be able to obtain an abortion as a matter of personal choice.”

Ramsey, R. (2021, March 2). Texas voters’ views shifting on abortion, pot, gambling and Confederate monuments, poll finds. The Texas Tribune. https://www.texastribune.org/2021/03/02/texas-gambling-abortion-marijuana-confederate/ 


Assignment

1. Watch the videos below for a brief overview of abortion laws. (You should conduct your own research.) 

ABC News. (2017, January 17). The history of abortion laws in America. GMA [Video]. https://www.goodmorningamerica.com/news/video/history-abortion-laws-america-45143941 

KHOU 11. (2021, September 1). Timeline: Texas abortion laws over the years. YouTube. [Video].https://youtu.be/VEOe00p2nu8 

KVUE. (2021, September 2). Texas abortion bill is in effect. Here’s what that means. YouTube. [Video]. https://youtu.be/InaEZsZP208


2. Familiarize yourself with the details of Texas Senate Bill 8.

Legiscan. (n.d.). Texas Senate Bill 8. https://legiscan.com/TX/text/SB8/id/2395961


3. Draft a persuasive argument for or against Texas Senate Bill 8 (it is okay to be neutral, but you must state your reasoning). Think about the religious, political, cultural, economic, and societal implications of the bill. 

Your submission must include the components below in essay format: 

  • Provide a brief introduction of Texas Senate Bill 8. 1-2 sentence(s) 
  • Give context and/or background on Texas Senate Bill 8. 2-3 sentences 
  • Describe how federalism divides power and resources between the U.S. federal government and state governments. 1-2 sentence(s) 
  • Detail possible limitations of federalism and how the overreach may negatively impact how Texas and other states interpret Roe v. Wade (abortion law). 1-2 sentence(s)
  • Does Texas Senate Bill 8 violate the Supremacy clause? Why or why not? 1-2 sentence(s)
  • Share your position on the Texas Senate Bill 8. (Acknowledge opposing viewpoints, if applicable.) 2-3 sentences
  • Provide facts/data/evidence that support your argument. 2-3 sentences
  • Summarize your argument. Do you have questions or a call to action? 1-2 sentence(s)

(Your submission should read like an essay. I added the sentence length to assist those who prefer more detail. I am more concerned about the structure and quality of your argument. Your grade will be negatively impacted if you do not answer the bold content-related questions, include data, and/or forget to list your citations. Be sure to review the discussion rubric in the ‘Start Here’ module.) 

 

Questions to Think About: 

  • Roe v. Wade was decided in 1973, why has there been a resurgence in the fight for reproductive rights?
  • Is Texas Senate Bill 8 politically motivated? 
  • How is the political landscape altered when a conservative is pro-choice or a liberal is pro-life? 
  • What are the underlining issues surrounding Texas Senate Bill 8? 
  • Will Texas Senate Bill 8 help preserve life? 
  • How will Texas Senate Bill 8 impact historically excluded groups (HEG’s)?
  • Is it possible to end abortion? If not, why? If so, how can it be accomplished? 
  • Does Texas Senate Bill 8 go far enough? What other measures should be included?
  • What are the short-term and long-term impacts of Texas Senate Bill 8? 
  • Is there a correlation between reproductive rights and those against wearing a mask or the Covid vaccine?
  • If life begins when an “embryo’s cardiac activity can be detected”, does that mean that child support begins then too? 
  • What is the ratio of costs to benefits? If abortions are limited or ended, then what resources are available to support the child? 
  • Should those who want to end or limit abortions focus on the adoption industrial complex and issues with the foster system? Should they fight for members of the LGBTQ+ community to be allowed to openly adopt and foster children? 

 

Required Reading (I want you to read the article.) 

Waller, A. & Pollard, J. (2021, October 18). U.S. Supreme Court considers taking up abortion providers’ challenge to Texas’ near-total ban on the procedure. The Texas Tribune. https://www.texastribune.org/2021/10/18/texas-abortion-restrictions-supreme-court/