Heartbeat Act Passes in Texas

The bill is the first of its kind in terms of both severity and enforcement. || Illustration by Tatiana Dubose

How the Texas Abortion Law is affecting people and where to seek help on campus

As of Sept. 1, 2021, it is now illegal  to get an abortion in Texas after six weeks. This law is known across the US as the Texas Heartbeat Act. It mandates that as soon as a heartbeat is heard in ultrasound, a pregnancy cannot be terminated. This only gives pregnant people, who become aware of their pregnancy at the earliest possible time, a two-week window to decide if they are prepared for parenthood, and if not, schedule an abortion.  

Pregnancies are tracked by the first day of someone’s last period; the law only gives one week to miss a period and another week to test if there is a pregnancy before the six-week cut-off window is reached. Many are not even aware of their pregnancy until eight to twelve weeks along, so by the time most people realize they are carrying another life, it will be too late. 

This is the first law in the US in which abortion is completely banned after six weeks. There is no exception even for pregnant people whose pregnancy poses a serious medical threat (to either themself or their child), such as those with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome or HIV, along with those who are too young to conceive in a healthy manner. 

The law is the first of its kind to be enforced by deputized private citizens rather than law enforcement. According to the Texas Tribune, the law empowers Texan civilians to sue other citizens who they suspect of assisting in the execution of an abortion. 

Em Alves, the Violence Prevention Education Coordinator at the Pheonix Center, an on-campus interpersonal violence support and education office, stated that the law is “a disservice to survivors everywhere and sets a horrible precedent.” They explained that the law has little to no exceptions for survivors of rape or incest who already had their bodies violated.  

“Ultimately, this law is going to affect most deeply those without the economic means to travel for abortion care,” said Alves. According to everytexan.org, 38 percent of single-mother households live in poverty as of 2019. Under the new abortion legislation, this number may increase. 

The bill was written and passed by a Texas Government that is 74 percent male. The Texas House of Representatives has 111 men and only 38 women. The state senate has 21 men and 10 women. The bill was passed in the state House with votes from all 87 Republicans and one Democrat. 

If a survivor of any kind on the Auraria Campus needs help, they can come to room 227 in the Tivoli Building , across from iPie. The Pheonix Center is available for students, staff, and faculty at all three schools on the Auraria Campus, and they offer in-person and virtual interpersonal violence support. Advocacy is an individualized service provided to help each survivor with their individual needs. To learn more, go to a drop-in appointment Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. But if help is needed outside of their office hours, they offer a 24/7 free and confidential helpline at 303-556-2255. 

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