Texas recently introduced the country’s most drastic restrictions against abortion. Senate Bill 8, colloquially referred to as the “heartbeat” bill, was signed into law by Gov. Greg Abbott — a man — in May 2021 and took effect in early September. The bill’s nickname references the most restrictive aspect of the bill — it forbids Texas women from receiving an abortion after “cardiac activity” is detectable, around week six of pregnancy.
The time limit is considered so restrictive because many women are not aware that they are pregnant until after they’ve missed a period — assuming their menstrual cycle is on a consistent schedule. This leaves only two weeks for a woman to decide whether she wants an abortion, make an appointment and go through with the procedure. In previous years, over 80% of abortions in Texas took place after the six-week mark according to the Texas Tribune.
Historically speaking, outlawing abortions does not lower abortion rates. In fact, according to a CNN report, it just makes the procedure more dangerous and difficult to come by. Not only does the new law limit Texans’ access to safe abortions, it incentivizes citizens to turn on neighbors already in dire straits. The law promises to reward any person who successfully sues an abortion provider or aide $10,000 on top of attorney fees.
There will be no “loving thy neighbor” in Texas when it comes to abortion –– not when a conservative resident could make ten grand if they catch someone aiding another.
According to College Factual, 48.22% of UO undergraduate students come from out-of-state, and Texas is one of the top five suppliers. Some of the approximately 5,000 first-year students came from the Lone Star State to attend UO and discover Oregon’s far more liberal abortion policies.
Many of these Texan Ducks find themselves between a rock and a hard place: focus primarily on their new life in Oregon or on what’s happening back home? For instance, Lia Lindsay was born and raised in Austin, Texas, before moving to Eugene. Lindsay describes herself as “100% pro-choice,” so witnessing her home state in such turmoil is frustrating, she said.
“It’s terrifying. Stopping abortions doesn’t stop abortions; it just stops legal abortions,” Lindsay said. “You’re not going to see any change, really. It’s just going to become more dangerous.”
While moving away from home has been bittersweet for most first-years, Lindsay is both relieved and saddened to be away during such unrest.
“I feel better personally being here because I got away from it, but I also feel bad,” Lindsay said. “I’m 18 now so I can finally vote; I can vote against the governors who are making these laws. But I’m not in Texas anymore. I am where I would much rather be.”
Faculty, too, must watch from afar as their home state turns on its women. Graduate Employee Robin Dodd grew up just west of Fort Worth, Texas, and lived in the state on-and-off until 2006.
"It's an assault on reproductive rights and places an undue burden on those already struggling the most,” Dodd said. “Rural and low-income women have always been under-supported by the administration's policies.”
Although faculty from Texas will likely not return to the state for the summer like some first-years may, they still wish for their home state’s government to do better for its women.
“I would be thrilled if Texas lawmakers would value the born as much as the unborn and admit that it's about their desire to control women's bodies, not their concern for unborn children," Dodd said.
As of Oct. 10, the bill has been halted by U.S. District Court Judge Robert Pitman and reinstated by the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals awaiting judgement by the Department of Justice.
The abortion ban in Texas does nothing but turn people against women who are already in a difficult position: an unwanted pregnancy. Whether it be due to a serious crime — such as rape — or something as simple as not being ready to have a child, women deserve to decide for themselves whether they have an abortion without patriarchal governors putting a restrictive time limit on their choice.