Supreme Court takes on Texas laws

Claire Geare, editor-in-chief

Last May, Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed into law a bill that would ban abortions as soon as an ultrasound can detect a fetal heartbeat. It is important to note that a fetal heartbeat is not actually a heart, but the cells where a heart would eventually develop.
Commonly known as a “heartbeat bill,” the law limits abortions as early as six weeks into pregnancy. According to Dr. Visha Nerma, an OB-GYN, in an interview for NPR a fetal heartbeat is the grouping of cells that initiate electrical activity where a heart will develop. This is especially limiting, since this is before most women even know they are pregnant.
“I think it’s terrible. I think people should be able to get an abortion if they feel thats a good choice for them. Everyone is at a different place in life and it shouldn’t be up to the government to decide when you have a kid,” said Mia Gullaksen a foreign exchange student.
The law is not enforced by the government, instead empowering citizens to privately sue abortion providers. This prevents said abortion providers such as Planned Parenthood to sue the government, as technically there is no government involved to sue. Citizens intending to sue do not have to have any connection to the case.
“It’s a way for the government to get around Roe, because they’ve made citizens the enforcing authority instead of the state. So now it’s not the state violating a right to privacy, it’s citizens. The court could redefine the state’s interests in protecting maternal health. It’s a case where they’re balancing state interests with individual liberty,” said Angela Thomas, a government and economics teacher.
The bill was quickly challenged by abortion providers and members of the public who are in support of the right to access an abortion, colloquially known as “Pro-Choice.” Due to the national attention and public division this bill has caused, the Supreme Court expedited the hearing of the case. Arguments began November 1st.
Proponents of the law argue that since it technically states no government involvement, neither the abortion providers or federal government are entitles to sue in the first place.
Challengers of the law argue that it is in violation of the Court’s 1973 decision in the landmark case Roe v. Wade, which prohibits states from restricting abortions until at least the second trimester. If Texas wins this case, Roe v. Wade may be effectively overturned.
A reversal of Roe creates an opportunity for 22 states, including Arizona’s, pre-Roe abortion laws to implement either immediately or following government action. This may almost entirely ban abortion in these states. These are called “trigger laws,” which are laws that are currently unenforceable, but may become enforced following a change in circumstance.
“I think it’s more important to give the kids a chance to make it and be loved by their parents than to give women the freedom to abort a fetus. That being said, I also think the government should invest more money into making it easy for mothers to get money to take care of their kids because a lot of independent women don’t have a good housing situation to take care of a kid,” said Kevin Lopez, a senior.
Important aspects of this case call into question the court’s respect to the precedent set in 1973, as well as the balance of an individual’s right to privacy with the state’s interest in protecting life. With a more conservative court, the decision is likely to turn out differently than it did in 1973. If this decision is overturned, Arizonans will swiftly feel the effects.