Texas Bans Abortions During COVID-19
Abortion has long been a hot-button issue for many people. Those who support abortion explain that a woman should have the option to choose whether to get an abortion after considering all her options. Those against it maintain that abortion is the taking of an innocent human life, which should be protected at all costs. Some people argue against abortion from religious viewpoints. The fact remains that abortion should be a personal choice since the woman question has to consider many issues such as her mental and physical wellbeing, the ability to care for a child in a comfortable situation, among others. In the United States, Roe v Wade court ruling passed on 22nd January 1973 allowed abortions in most cases. The Supreme Court ruled that any state laws banning abortions except in exceptional circumstances were unconstitutional. Over the past few years, however, things have changed with states passing increasingly restrictive laws that make abortions illegal in almost all circumstances. The state of Texas is the latest to ban abortions during the COVID-19 pandemic, which is an infringement on the rights of many women in a desperate time.
The state of Texas has had a long and difficult journey with abortion laws since the Roe v Wade ruling. In 1977, the state allowed all medical providers to refuse to perform an abortion without giving a reason, except in cases where a mother’s life was in danger. Another 1985 law required any medical practitioner performing abortions to register with the state. In 1985, another blow came when the state mandated that Medicaid would no longer cover the costs of abortion, except for cases where the mother’s life was in danger. Texas followed this in 2003 with several health codes that further restricted aces to abortion. One of these codes stated that a woman had to wait 24 hours before getting an abortion, and the provider also had to give them a list of counseling groups approved by the state, including anti-abortion ones. In 2005, the state began to fund anti-abortion groups and movements. In 2013, the state banned all abortions after 22 weeks except in dire cases where the mother could die (Grossman et al. 497). It is clear that the state of Texas has been progressing towards a total ban on abortions through the years, and they are inching closer to their target with each passing year.
The year 2020 has proved to be the worst yet for abortion laws after the state banned abortions during the COVID-19 pandemic. On 10th April, the US Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a ban on most abortions by Governor Gregg Abbott (The Economist 1). Because of the pandemic, the governor required all medical procedures deemed not to be urgent put on hold to preserve medical resources for the coronavirus response. So far, the virus has claimed more than twenty thousand lives, and medical personnel have been working overtime trying to save lives. Most states have instituted shelter-in-place orders, meaning that people stay at home and only go out for essential supplies and errands. With the most part of the country locked down, people have been crippled with fear and anxiety over what could happen in the future. Amid the current chaos and uncertainty, the state of Texas decided to impose additional bans on abortions, explaining that it is a non-essential procedure that takes away medical equipment and personnel from people who need it more urgently. To understand the validity of this claim, it is crucial to examine the current situation critically.
The United States has more than 600,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus as of 14th April, 2020. Compared to other states, the virus has a relatively low impact on Texas. Data from the Texas Department of State Health Services shows 14,600 confirmed cases and 318 deaths from the virus (Texas Medical Center 1). This is a relatively low number for the millions of people living in the state of Texas. As of now, the state has stepped up testing efforts s and instituted measures to curb the spread of the highly contagious virus. Hospitals across the country have been overwhelmed by an influx of patients, and they have had to cancel all non-essential procedures to free up resources for COVID-19 patients. One of the most significant areas of concern is the lack of adequate protective equipment for medical workers, and this has led to many workers contacting the coronavirus from their patients. The state of Texas has also put in place anticipatory measures to prepare hospitals for a surge in Covi-19 patients, which include canceling all non-essential procedures. This is the reason that has been given for the ban on most abortions.
Medical experts argue that abortion should be considered an essential service, given that it is a time-sensitive issue. Current law bans abortions after twenty-two weeks, and women worry that they might not beat the 22-week deadline for an abortion. Another challenge in the abortion issue is the limited number of clinics that perform abortions in the state of Texas. As abortion laws have become more restrictive over the years, many clinics have closed down. Women now have to travel to the available clinics, which could be very far depending on where one lives (Grossman et al. 433). For example, women from the Rio Grande Valley area have to travel more than 300 miles to get to a clinic that offers abortion services. The most important question in this situation is, do abortions take away medical resources that could otherwise be used for COVID-19 patients? During the first ten weeks of pregnancy, women can take pills to induce an abortion safely. Another type of abortion option is vacuum aspiration, which can be used up to the sixteenth week of pregnancy. Dilation and evacuation is the third type of available option, often used after the fourteenth week.
Given the abortion laws in Texas, the most commonly used options will be the pills and vacuum aspiration. Both of these are quite simple and take only a few minutes. For example, a doctor will administer a pill to a patient and send them home to wait for the process to be complete. A vacuum aspiration takes place in the doctor’s office, and only takes a few minutes. Both of these procedures take very little resources. Taking into account the current situation in Texas, a ban on abortions is an extreme measure. Women should be allowed to get abortions if they need them because they are an essential medical procedure. Another issue to consider is the mental wellbeing of women. Faced with uncertain times, they should be allowed to make the best choice in their situation.
In conclusion, Texas abortion laws are quite restrictive, and the additional restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic have only made matters worse. Women have been denied their right to an essential medical procedure. Abortions require very little resources; thus, medical practitioners can provide them without taking resources for coronavirus patients. Women should have the right to choose whether or not to get an abortion based on their individual circumstances. Restrictive laws such as the ones in Texas are unfair as they infringe upon an individual’s rights.
“An abortion ban prompted by covid-19 reaches the Supreme Court.” The Economist. 12 April 2020. https://www.economist.com/united-states/2020/04/12/an-abortion-ban-prompted-by-covid-19-reaches-the-supreme-court“Coronavirus: A Texas Medical Center continuing update.” Texas Medical Center. 14 April 2020. https://www.tmc.edu/news/2020/04/coronavirus-connection-a-texas-medical-center-continuing-update/Grossman, Daniel, et al. “Change in abortion services after implementation of a restrictive law in Texas.” Contraception 90.5 (2014): 496-501.
Grossman, Daniel, et al. “Change in distance to nearest facility and abortion in Texas, 2012 to 2014.” Jama 317.4 (2017): 437-439.