Modern Salem Witch Trials: The Texas Abortion Law
In the 1600s, rumors spread through the town of Salem, with several women being accused of possession by the devil and witchcraft. As the hysteria flew around town and overwhelmed the justice system, suspected ‘witches’ were either hanged, died in jail, or stoned to death.
There were no records of if they were wrongfully accused, or if there were factual evidence leading to their condemnation.
The Salem Witch Trials ended, with the accusers showing no remorse for executing more than 20 women and girls.
In 2021, there are no witches– just regular women seeking healthcare, held at the mercy of a draconian reproductive law.
A law that seems to reverse time in our progress as humans and our treatment of women, the Texas abortion law is an elaborate witch hunt: it empowers private citizens to sue healthcare providers aiding those seeking an abortion after six weeks of pregnancy. If a lawsuit is successful, the plaintiff would receive at least $10,000 and have any legal fees reimbursed.
With the coronavirus pandemic seemingly getting worse, who’s to say there wouldn’t be anyone who would seek out women getting an abortion for some quick cash?
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A cruelly “clever” circumvention of the law–it does not directly sue the women having the procedure, but it might as well do. Abortion clinics around the state may close or be prone to even more harassment and violence, and residents may refuse to offer help or lodging to pregnant women seeking an abortion.
As of now, clinics are hosted “The tragedy is that we can only provide abortions for about 10 percent of the people that we could provide abortion for yesterday,” Hagstrom Miller said.
The Texas Abortion Law also means that aside from the side effects of pregnancy and the thought of having nobody else to help them, women will likely have to resort to risky ways to get an abortion which may include leaving the state of Texas to get a safe abortion elsewhere.
And yet, this legislation may just set a precedent for other states to pass similar legislation, leaving women with little to no choice for their own bodies and their pregnancies.
According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), “women resort to unsafe means to end unwanted pregnancies, including self-inflicted abdominal and bodily trauma, ingestion of dangerous chemicals, self-medication with a variety of drugs, and reliance on unqualified abortion providers.
Today, approximately 21 million women around the world obtain unsafe, illegal abortions each year, and complications from these unsafe procedures account for approximately 13% of all maternal deaths, nearly 50,000 annually.”
The law is both cruel and vague, without even defining what it means in the clause about “aiding and abetting” women’s abortion. Does this mean the men whose ejaculation causes 100% of women’s pregnancies to be persecuted as well? What does the law say about rape and sexual assault?
Gov. Greg Abbott from Texas previously mentioned that the new abortion law does not need a rape exception, citing that women have at least six weeks to get an abortion.
However, a typical menstrual cycle is 28 days, or four weeks, though many people have irregular periods. Those factors mean someone might not realize they are pregnant until 30 or 40 days, which is just shy of the six-week deadline.
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Gov. Abbott attempts to reassure by saying Texas is adamant on “ending rape.” He also said that “rape is a crime and Texas will work tirelessly that we eliminate all rapists from the streets of Texas by aggressively going out and arresting them and prosecuting them and getting them off the streets.”
Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez responded by saying “None of this is about supporting life. What this is about is controlling women’s bodies and controlling people who are not cisgender men.
If they were about being pro-life, then the Republican party would support, frankly, an agenda that helps guarantee health care, that helps ensure that people who do give birth that doesn’t have the resources to care for a child, can have that care for a child.”
Facts are important: which means abortion is healthcare. Women should always have a choice on what to do with their bodies– if they want to get an abortion, they should be able to, and if they don’t want to get an abortion, they should not be ridiculed for it.
The ACOG also says in a statement:
“The best health care is provided free of political interference in the patient-physician relationship. Personal decision-making by women and their doctors should not be replaced by political ideology.
ACOG supports robust, factual debate on issues of importance to the American people. We welcome the opportunity to provide expert factual information on issues related to women’s health.”
Women have come so far since the Salem Witch Trials– but laws such as the Texas Abortion Law just proves there is so much more to go.