Texas: Fascists Move to Outlaw Abortion, Enforced by Vigilantes

| revcom.us


On May 19, the Christian fascist governor of Texas, Greg Abbott, signed a law that outlaws abortions after six weeks of pregnancy. This is, as a writer at Vox.com put it, “a de facto (in fact) ban on nearly all abortions” in the state.1 At six weeks, many pregnant women have not even learned about their condition—which means that under the new law, these women will find themselves in a situation where it would be illegal to have an abortion by the time they become aware of their pregnancy. The law contains no exceptions for women who were violently impregnated through rape and incest.

Anti-scientific ignoramuses claim that “fetal heartbeat” can be heard at six weeks of pregnancy—Texas is among states that have passed or are attempting to pass “heartbeat” laws against abortion using that claim. Let’s first make clear a scientific fact: a fetus is not a baby. It is a group of live cells that has a potential to become a human being but has no life of its own yet. It is not yet a separate life from the life of the woman who is pregnant.2 At six weeks, what exists inside a pregnant woman’s body is not even a fetus but is considered an embryo—only about a quarter of an inch (6 millimeters) long, the size of a grain of rice.3 As Dr. Saima Aftab, medical director of the Fetal Care Center at Nicklaus Children's Hospital in Miami, explained, at six weeks of pregnancy, the heart of the embryo is nowhere near fully formed, and no so-called “heartbeat” is audible.4

And, very importantly: When a woman who does not want to continue a pregnancy, for whatever reason, has an abortion, she is NOT committing “murder” but is making a choice that should be her right as a human being.

A Sinister Twist

There are no criminal penalties in the Texas law Abbott signed. Instead, according to the Austin National Public Radio station KUT, “the law allows private citizens to sue anyone who helps a woman get an abortion.”5 What this means is that the law invites and encourages fascist vigilantes to hound and punish women getting an abortion, and those who support them.

Not only doctors and staff at an abortion clinic but a rape counselor informing a woman who becomes pregnant after being raped about where to get an abortion … a family member or friend who provides money to a woman who needs to end a pregnancy … a co-worker who tells someone in her office about a nearby clinic … an Uber driver who takes a woman to a provider—all these and more could be sued by anyone who claims they “aided and abetted” an “illegal abortion,” with penalties that start at $10,000. Those bringing the lawsuits don’t even have to be located in Texas.6

As Josh Blackman, a professor of Constitutional Law at South Texas College of Law Houston said, “Every citizen is now a private attorney general. You can have random people who are against abortion start suing tomorrow."7 This police-state law—written, approved, and signed by ultra-patriarchal Christian fascists—could serve to unleash an army of women-hating anti-abortionists to enforce it.

The Texas law is scheduled to go into effect in September. Opponents are planning to oppose it in the courts. But the fascists who crafted this law made lawsuits to overturn it more difficult to pursue, because the state is not responsible for enforcing it. If the law does withstand challenges, it will possibly lead to shutting down the remaining abortion clinics in the country’s second most populous state.

This hateful law is part of a deluge of anti-abortion measures in Texas and nationwide. This year the city of Lubbock, in West Texas, passed an ordinance that will outlaw abortion within the city limits as of June 1.8 Twenty towns in the state have declared themselves “sanctuaries for the unborn” and passed ordinances to punish abortion providers.9 As of March 2, 384 anti-abortion measures have already been introduced in 43 states this year.10 The U.S. Supreme Court—dominated by fascists—recently agreed to hear arguments on a Mississippi law that directly seeks to undermine and gut Roe vs. Wade, the landmark decision that legalized abortion nationwide in 1973.

The Texas law adds a sinister new twist—mob enforcement of women’s repression—to the onslaught. All these hateful measures seek to rip away the most basic rights—and the humanity—of women in this country.

The hour is very late.


1. What Banning Abortions at 6 Weeks Really Means, Vox, May 19, 2021.  [back]

2. See “What Is an Abortion and Why Women Must Have the Right to Choose: Life Cannot and Should Not Always Be Preserved,” by A.S.K., revcom.us.  [back]

3. Embryonic & Fetal Development, American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.  [back]

4. Is a ‘Fetal Heartbeat’ Really a Heartbeat at 6 Weeks? Live Science. According to this article:

…at six weeks of pregnancy, an ultrasound can detect "a little flutter in the area that will become the future heart of the baby," said Dr. Saima Aftab, medical director of the Fetal Care Center at Nicklaus Children's Hospital in Miami. This flutter happens because the group of cells that will become the future "pacemaker" of the heart gain the capacity to fire electrical signals, she said.

But the heart is far from fully formed at this stage, and the "beat" isn't audible; if doctors put a stethoscope up to a woman's belly this early on in her pregnancy, they would not hear a heartbeat, Aftab told Live Science.  [back]

5. Texas’ New Anti-Abortion Law Could be Tough for Providers to Challenge in Court, KUT Austin, 5/19/21.  [back]

6. Texas Anti-Abortion Legislation Paves Way for Every Right-to-Lifer to Sue Abortion Doctors, NBC News, 5/6/21.  [back]

7. Gov. Greg Abbott signs into law one of nation’s strictest abortion measures, banning procedure as early as six weeks into a pregnancy, Texas Tribune, May 19, 2021.  [back]

8. Planned Parenthood Sues City of Lubbock for Abortion Ban, The Texan, 5/18/21.  [back]

9. The Tiny American Towns Passing Anti-Abortion Rules, The Guardian, 4/27/21.  [back]

10. The Danger Ahead: Early Indicators Show States Will be the Main Abortion Battleground in 2021, The Guttmacher Institute, 3/2/21.  [back]



Get a free email subscription to revcom.us:

Volunteers Needed... for revcom.us and Revolution

Send us your comments.