By: Ian Cox, Red Phoenix Correspondent Texas
On September 1st the reactionary SB8 bill otherwise known as the “heartbeat law” that was passed by the Texas state congress in May of 2021 finally went into effect. SB8 is one of the most openly patriarchal attempts to repress women’s reproductive rights in the United States as it effectively bans all abortions to a six week time period, which for most women is not even long enough to know they are pregnant. Kendall Burran (22) a server from Lufkin, Texas said that “the six week time limitation on abortions is unrealistic and does not allow anyone enough time to handle an unwanted pregnancy. Most women would be four weeks pregnant before they miss their first period. Assuming they have regular cycles. That only leaves two weeks to legally end an unwanted pregnancy.” As a note, 85% of abortions performed in the state of Texas happen after the six week period allotted by SB8. Kendall continued by saying that “two weeks is not enough time for anyone to confirm the pregnancy, schedule an abortion, and save up or raise the $300-$800 for the procedure itself.”
The attack on women from SB8 doesn’t stop there. As the bill is written it allows for “private civil citizens” to play the leading role in enforcing the legislation. This means that anyone in the state of Texas can sue any person seeking reproductive health rights within the state after the six week limitation has ended. Cynthia Lebeau (40) a construction worker from the East Texas area told the Phoenix, “any woman who obtains an abortion has to live in fear. This also means that women will have to live in fear of appearing to maybe have an abortion due to false allegations. Our neighbors should not be reporting other people’s health choices to the police.” Cynthia also stated that “women will not go to get prenatal services out of fear. Women will be afraid to go in for check-ups if they have managed to get an abortion after the six week period for fear of being found out and sued.”
Another damaging aspect of the reactionary SB8 law is its racist implications towards the oppressed nationalities that exist within the state of Texas; primarily the Chicano(a) and African-American communities who already suffer from a lack of medical resources in their communities. K.O. Ray (24) a bakery worker also from Lufkin, Texas said that “SB8 will make an already limited resource in our communities more difficult to find. With the systemic racism that exists in the US and especially in Texas people of color are likely going to be targeted more often” by the “private civil citizens” that are to play the leading role in this law’s enforcement.
And it doesn’t stop there. SB8 also allows for the prosecution of people who have “knowingly [engaged] in conduct that aids or abets the performance or inducing of an abortion” that is performed after the six week time limit. This includes people who might offer to help pay for the medical costs of the procedure or drive/taxi a patient to a clinic to have the procedure performed. This prosecution can occur “regardless of whether the person knew or should have known that an abortion would be performed or induced.” This line in SB8 exists for two reasons (a) to make women feel unsafe and isolated in asking for help in receiving their reproductive rights and (b) to scare people away from helping women in need for fear of being sued up to $10,000.
Immediately after SB8 went into effect in Texas many liberals around the county including US President Joe Biden stated that the “law blatantly violates the constitutional rights established under Roe V. Wade” and that his administration is “deeply committed to the constitutional rights established in Roe v. Wade” yet no bourgeois-liberal politician has offered any type of viable resistance to SB8 in Texas. Women are at this point left to bear the full weight of this repressive law and the struggle against it. Kendall Burran added that “SB8 was not created in a democratic fashion, if it was it would more accurately reflect the views and concerns of working class women here in Texas. Working class women want, need, and deserve affordable and accessible reproductive healthcare” and that “tons of people will have to stand up, speak up, and attend protests to make their voices against this law heard.”
The fact that SB8 passed against the will of most poor and working class women and went almost unopposed by liberal politicians makes it more than clear that the bourgeois-democratic system that represents the capitalist class here in Texas and the US for that matter has no interest in ending the real struggles women face or aiding women in their struggle for reproductive rights as capitalism itself is intrinsically tied to the exploitation and oppression of women. It will take mass women’s movements, grassroots organizing, and a real systemic overhaul that capitalism cannot handle to solve the issues women face. For now though, women in Texas are left with few optimal choices other than struggling to end the repressive measures enacted by SB8. Any and all progressive and revolutionary forces in Texas and the US need to be standing in solidarity with the struggle of working women in Texas as they fight for liberation and the freedom to control their own bodies.