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This Women’s History Month, let’s celebrate by uniting in outrage –– because being a woman in Texas is damn terrifying, and anyone following abortion-law news should understand why.

You may be at least slightly familiar with the ruling late last month from the Alabama Supreme Court, who proclaimed that frozen embryos are legally considered children, causing in-vitro fertilization treatment centers to stop providing IVF services. But Alabama isn’t the only state threatening women’s family-planning rights.

In January, a federal appeals court ruled that emergency room doctors in Texas aren’t required by law to perform emergency abortions to save the mother’s life.

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For context, let’s imagine a hypothetical (but sadly plausible) scenario: Young Mary is raped by her uncle and becomes pregnant. The state has no protections for women impregnated via rape or incest (because that would be too basically decent), so Mary is forced by the great State of Texas to carry the pregnancy to term. At her 15-week scan, she finds out her child will likely be stillborn or die soon after birth due to a medical abnormality. She’s still required to carry the pregnancy to term, as the state doesn’t allow for abortions in these cases, either. Then, Mary goes into premature labor and starts bleeding at an alarming rate. Doctors determine she will die without medical stabilization. Based on the January ruling, her doctor can just let her die. At this point, dead bodies have more rights than Mary does.

Texas AG Ken Paxton threatened last year to prosecute doctors for even providing emergency abortions, despite the procedure (allegedly) being protected in those cases and since it’s what Texans want. A recent poll by the Texas Politics Project from the University of Texas at Austin showed that over 80% of Texas voters, including conservatives, support abortion access in cases where the mother’s health is threatened. Another study, this one from the research firm Perry Undem in 2022, found that 80% of Republican men and women in Texas support abortion access in some situations.

But extremism is all we can expect from Donald Trump’s GOP. Apparently, it’s better for Republican politicians to be seen as “tough on abortion” and let some women die than it is to allow abortion to save women’s lives. That’s not “pro-life.” That’s just “pro-forced birth.”

The January ruling did nothing to clarify when emergency abortions are legally protected. Returning to the hypothetical, Mary’s doctor — technically — can intervene and save her life if she goes into a medical crisis, but that physician could still be sued afterward for administering an abortion (which carries a possible life sentence) because the state’s abortion ban is vaguely worded and relies on doctors exercising “reasonable medical judgment.”

The GOP stands to benefit from keeping the law as confusing as possible for medical professionals in situations like this. It keeps doctors frightened of litigation and less likely to perform abortions. There’s a lawsuit currently before the Texas Supreme Court on this issue –– 22 women have said they suffered pregnancy complications or will face future complications after Texas doctors refused to administer abortions. A lawyer from the Center for Reproductive Rights recently told the court that medical professionals don’t understand the law’s emergency exceptions and “the state won’t tell us” what the law means.

Side note: With the decline in abortion rates in Texas, we’re also seeing an increase in infant mortality. Last year, a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found Texas’ infant mortality rate increased by 8% in 2022 from the previous year. The March of Dimes Perinatal Data Center gave Texas a D- grade for infant and maternal health in 2023, indicating that infant and maternal health conditions are worsening from previous years. In 2021, the leading causes of infant deaths were birth defects, preterm births/low birth weights, sudden unexpected infant death (SUID), and maternal complications.

By the time you’re reading this, the primary election is over, and the results are probably in. If you already cared about the inhumanity that is the Texas abortion law, I hope you voted for someone who will do something about it. If you didn’t vote, you’d better make up for it by casting a ballot in the November presidential election, keeping in mind that Trump’s Supreme Court justices allowed all this to happen by overturning Roe v. Wade. You can be mad at President Joe Biden all you want over Gaza, but if you’re a woman, sitting this one out or protest voting could possibly cost you your life.

Roe v. Wade wasn’t just an abortion law. It provided protection from personhood laws and other threats to reproductive rights. Since the religious right came for IVF in Alabama, Gov. Greg Abbott voiced support for the service but called the topic “complex” and avoided pledging to legally protect IVF in Texas. He said he has “no doubt” Texas will weigh in on IVF and said he “wants to ensure we promote life.”

In other words, we can’t rely on Abbott or the GOP to protect women’s lives — conservatives don’t give a damn about you once you’re born. l

 

This column reflects the opinions of the editorial board and not the Fort Worth Weekly. To submit a column, please email Editor Anthony Mariani at Anthony@FWWeekly.com. He will gently edit it for clarity and concision.

Read about how a local tattoo shop owned and staffed by women challenges norms in a men-centric industry in Arts.

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