Abortion in Texas: SB-8 is an immoral law that encourages spying into the most intimate actions of another for financial gain. Time for clergy to speak out against it.
This law targets girls as well as women
I do not think it is fair to categorize as unthinking or downright cruel all of those who feel that embryos and fetuses have the same right to life as females.
They simply don’t want abortions. I understand that. I sympathize with the spiritual and moral principles that are behind this push. Redefining science and elevating the status of the embryo or fetus to full personhood provides, for them, a solid platform from which to work.
But this law is immoral and carries some troubling and even horrific implications. It also targets little girls.
Doonesbury nailed it
This cartoon lays it out. In Texas, the hunt is on for the most desperate female victims of male dominance and their propensity to get a female (of any age) pregnant and then, too often, walk away, untouched, unaccountable, utterly free to spew their sperm wherever and whenever they want.
Note: I’m intentionally not using the word “women” to refer to those dealing with unwanted pregnancies. The average age of puberty is getting younger and younger, so girls as young as eight or nine can, and do, become pregnant.
So this law is not intended to prevent just adult women from getting necessary medical care with an unwanted pregnancy. Again, it also aims at little girls.
As I said, it is an immoral law.
Good motives; tragic law
As I stated above, I am more than sure most behind this legislation have the best of motives.
They want to protect the innocent, but, sadly, that protection extends only as far as the first breath of a female infant. After that, vigilante justice takes over. That tiny little female, upon puberty, will be reduced to yet another breeding unit, actually stripped of the personhood status conferred upon her while in the womb.
Under the provisions of Texas S.B. 8, anybody can sue anyone who might have aided a [young, innocent rape/incest victim] female in any way to seek and obtain an abortion. That would include her parents, her doctor, her pastor, her therapist, possibly even the operators of a gas station where they may have stopped to get fuel on the way to get help.
If I am not mistaken, a friend of someone who rapes a female, with such actions resulting in a pregnancy, can file a suit and revel in the financial spoils of a court victory. Frankly, there’s nothing stopping a couple deliberately getting pregnant, the female subsequently seeking and gaining an abortion, and her partner then suing the pants off anyone who aided her, reaping a real financial windfall.
Remember, they can sue ANYONE who aided in the abortion process. And each court victory nets $10,000.
Effectively, I would guess, if this column gives such a desperate person incentive to do what is necessary to stay alive when an unwanted pregnancy threatens her life, then I, too, can be sued.
If a person who brings the suit wins in court, likely not a tough battle, he/she/they win $10,000 for each person successfully sued. If, perchance, they do lose, the person(s) sued MAY NOT countersue to recover court costs, which will be nightmarishly high. In other words, multiple bankruptcies following a failed lawsuit are a real possibility.
That’s compassion for the living? That’s what “right to life” boils down to? The destruction of caring people who only want to help desperate people in desperate situations?
I am not “for abortion”
Look, I’m not “for abortion.” I long for a world where every single conception results in a wanted and loved child, born into a family grouping equipped to care for and nurture this young, helpless being to grow into all that is possible in the best possible environments. The phrase “safe, legal, and rare” has long been my hope where abortions are concerned.
Using such procedures for routine birth control violates almost anyone’s moral standards. Performing an abortion for sex selection or ethnic or racial cleansing perpetuates such evil that any society that tolerates these possibilities stands rightly condemned.
That is not the nature of the law against abortion in Texas. Instead, it makes the rights of an unwanted parasite (like it or not, this group of cells really is a parasite as it feeds off the female body) implanted in an unwilling girl’s womb paramount over her rights as a living, breathing, sentient human being.
Furthermore, this law encourages spying into the most intimate actions of another for financial gain.
This is an immoral law.
Crazy implications of this law
Again, the reasoning behind the law is that an embryo is a person with all full rights and privileges for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness from the moment of a detectable heartbeat with the latest and most sensitive medical equipment.
This idea, by the way, is not biblically-based. The Bible suggests that life begins with breath (Genesis 2:7) and that a fetus still in the womb does not have the full protection of the law nor the full value of a human being (Exodus 21:22).
Nonetheless, this is the starting point for the law: anything that results from the uniting of a sperm cell and an egg cell that resides in the womb or (or even fallopian tube, likely ensuring a maternal death), once that fetal heartbeat is detected, has primary rights over the person in whom the womb resides.
Let’s unpack that idea just a bit. I picked up some of these ideas from a comment on a New York Times article on the situation in Texas, and am expanding on them here.
One: Since the product of conception is a person, then the sperm depositor must, upon the detection of that heartbeat, immediately begin child support. It is clear from this that we need in Texas a statewide, if not nationwide, repository of the DNA of every single male who is capable of impregnating a female. Otherwise, we risk letting the product of such a conception become part of the dreaded welfare state. The breeding unit, i.e., the female, at least deserves immediate financial support since many of her other rights have been stripped from her.
Two: The IRS needs to get its act together and recognize that the parents of the embryo, i.e., person, conceived in the last few weeks of 2021, are granted child tax credits for that year, not starting with the year of the birth, which would be for 2022. Be interesting to see how to prove that one.
Three: Health insurers will need to come up with new policies to cover the life and health of the embryo and all possible things that might go wrong. Life insurers should be able to sell policies covering the life of the embryo so the sperm donor can collect life insurance proceeds if the pregnancy spontaneously aborts (which happens to about 1/3 of conceptions), is killed in an accident, or dies during childbirth.
After all, financial incentives are central to this legislation. Why limit them to lawsuits?
Oh, by the way, God really deserves blame for being the greatest abortionist/murderer of all since so many conceptions do fail to make it to birth, which no longer matters as a starting point. Perhaps we should start a few lawsuits against God.
Will Texas courts have jurisdiction over God? Can hardly wait to see what the Supreme Court will say about that one.
There are multiple other implications to declaring the product of conception before viability and birth a person rather than a fetus or embryo. I’m sure readers can come up with more.
But the real issue is this: No one really “wants” abortion. It is always a tragedy when a pregnancy is forced upon an unwilling host, or when a conception takes place in the body of a female who is simply unable to care properly for a child, who will risk her long-term health and even life by carrying the fetus to term, and does want not the product of her womb, carrying her DNA, to be reared by someone approved by an adoption agency–and who may turn out to be a horrific, abusive parent.
It is always an anguished decision to terminate an unwanted pregnancy.
The Texas law is a cowardly way out
The real issue: how do we stop unwanted pregnancies before they begin. This is completely different than punishing females and those who help them after conception has taken place.
The Texas law is an overly simplistic, and, frankly, cowardly way out of dealing with an enormously complex situation with no easy solutions.
A few days ago, I had the privilege of a long conversation with an intelligent, self-aware woman of 20 who is attending a highly-rated technical university in Great Britain. Even there, she had heard about the Texas abortion situation. Her question about my stance led to an even more powerful conversation.
She told me that she doesn’t know one single female who has not been sexually assaulted in some way. Not one. “Much more than groping” is how she put it. She also knows that pregnancy for her at this time in her life would be beyond tragic.
Furthermore, like most women of her age, the idea of abstinence until marriage simply has no correlation with their realities. Most of these high-achieving students will necessarily delay marriage for a long time as they concentrate on studies and careers.
They see consensual sex as a normal, pleasurable part of their lives. The idea that a female is to keep herself “pure” for some unknown mate (who does not have the same expectations placed upon him) sounds suspiciously like the long history of systematically silencing women, ensuring their continued existence as second-class citizens.
We also talked extensively about her need to protect herself from not only pregnancy but also from aggressive males in general. She asks, “Why aren’t boys and men taught to actually respect girls and women? Why are there no restraints upon them, only on us?”
Yes, why? Why are most women in the modern world only marginally better off than those essentially imprisoned by the Taliban in Afghanistan? Why do we have to go through the world afraid and be the only ones responsible to act with decency and maturity? And now, the ones effectively “de-personed” by a law that gives the embryo/fetus primary rights over her own.
Why are we not taught about our bodies?
Why are not all taught from the earliest ages about the reality of living in physical bodies and the nature of sexual desires and responses? Why must we hide these realities until it is too late and unwanted conceptions happen? Why, in the name of all that is holy, good, and righteous, are we not making sure that contraceptive measures are 100% taught to and made fully and freely available to all our young people?
Do we really want to stop abortions? To promote healthy families and prepared parents and wanted and loved children? Then start educating. And this needs to happen in the church as well as in school.
In addition, we need to open as many female health clinics as possible. There should be one within an hour’s travel of 99% of all females. Females are the ones who carry the burden–and the joy–of creating new life. That role needs to be honored, not shamed and coat-hanger killed.
Again, clergy: time to step up and speak out and deal with this issue with courage.
For those brave women who choose to go ahead with a wanted or unwanted pregnancy, who decide to radically alter their lives around the endless needs of offspring, from newborn to nearly adult, we need to offer genuine support. Some starting points: Free prenatal care, two years of paid parental leave, and the kind of government-supported childcare from that point on to surround these little ones with every opportunity to grow into healthy, functioning, contributing adults who will work toward the bettering of our world.
Let us once more leave the dark ages
Providing financial incentives to punish females who find themselves in desperate situations, the functional outcome of this really awful legislation, takes us back into the dark ages. It’s time to move out of the darkness, into the light, into the real hope of every conception being wanted and cherished.
But this law is simply immoral and should not stand. There are better solutions. We, indeed, are better than this. And it’s time to act like it.
* DOONESBURY © G. B. Trudeau. Reprinted with permission of ANDREWS MCMEEL SYNDICATION. All rights reserved.