There is now a six-week limit on abortions in Texas under a new law that took effect on September 1. According to Houston OB/GYN and co-owner of Serenity Women’s Health & Med Spa Tamika Cross, MD, FACOG, fetal heartbeats are often discovered by ultrasound between the sixth and seventh week of pregnancy.
Senate Bill 8 (S.B. 8) is one of the strictest abortion legislation in the United States. Texas is the first state to have a “heartbeat” statute become active, though several others have attempted to do so. The statute is currently binding since the Supreme Court refused to consider a case that would have blocked it immediately after it was passed into law.
Naturally, this has many Texan women (and those who identify as female genetically) worried about their access to reproductive health services. Let’s examine the details of the bill, its implications for Texans seeking abortions, and the alternatives available to those who are denied one.
Explanations of the Texas Abortion Ban
After an ultrasound detects a baby’s heartbeat, the new law in Texas makes it illegal for a woman to get an abortion. Most abortions in Texas will be prohibited under this new rule because experts estimate that 85–90% of all abortions in Texas occur in women who are at least six weeks pregnant.
Although abortions are legal in cases of “medical emergency,” such as when a woman is raped or incestuously impregnated, the legislation does not afford any protections for such women.
Also, anyone in the country can file a lawsuit against you if you assist or support someone else in obtaining a late-term abortion in Texas. This group includes medical professionals as well as family, friends, and partners (or opponents of abortion).
What Difference Does This New Law Make to Abortion Access in Texas?
Abortions are still legal in Texas, but they must be performed very early in the pregnancy. One issue is that many women might not realize they are pregnant until after this time frame has passed. If they do, they might not have time to schedule an abortion appointment.
When a “fetal heartbeat” is detected, usually around six weeks into a pregnancy, the legislation prohibits further abortion procedures. Those who suddenly find themselves pregnant and are debating whether or not to abort sometimes find themselves in a haze of uncertainty.
Can You Describe Being Six Weeks Pregnant?
“Six weeks pregnant” can be confusing because pregnancy is counted from the final day of menstruation, not conception. The fact that many women’s periods are irregular further adds to the mystery.
If you use the standard menstrual cycle length of 28 days to determine when you should expect your period, you will be four weeks pregnant, just around the time your period is due to start. If you haven’t had your period in around two weeks, you can legally get an abortion in the state of Texas.
In other words, this is a tiny crack. If you discover you are pregnant after that date, it is extremely unlikely that you will be able to obtain an abortion scheduled and completed before the ridiculous deadline. In addition, the state of Texas mandates that a woman must see an abortion provider a minimum of twice before the procedure may be carried out,6, which will further shorten an already limited window for the surgery.
Planned Parenthood states in a FAQ about the new regulation that scheduling an appointment for an ultrasound is the first step. The procedure can then be scheduled and carried out. If a fetal heartbeat is detected during a second ultrasound, you will no longer be eligible for an abortion in the state of Texas.
What About Getting an Abortion in Texas?
Those who are less than six weeks pregnant or whose ultrasound does not indicate a fetal heartbeat can still access abortion services in Texas, where they will remain available. However, abortion clinics will no longer perform the procedure after this point.
After the six-week mark, or when a heartbeat is detectable, women will still be able to visit their reproductive health providers, but they will no longer be permitted to deliver an abortion. Nonetheless, providers can also provide other reproductive services, including reproductive counseling, basic gynecological care, and contraception.
Living in Texas will make it more crucial than ever to have a reliable method of birth control and a well-thought-out plan for using it. If you want to learn more about your choices, you can discuss them with your service provider.
Is There Any Other Way to Get an Abortion?
Most Texans won’t be able to get an abortion until they’re at least eight weeks along in a pregnancy, and that’s too late for most. However, they do have some choices available to them. You will probably have to travel out of state if you discover you are pregnant and require an abortion.
Healthcare providers, including those who perform abortions, are legally prohibited from providing information or referrals about or access to abortions in other states. They risk going to jail if they aid you.
What Can Be Done to Help Those Affected by the New Law?
Anyone outside Texas upset by happenings can help in many ways. If you can, go on a protest march. One alternative is to raise this matter with elected officials.
As an alternative, you may wish to contribute to groups like Planned Parenthood that are trying to raise money so that Texans can go to other states for safe abortions. Abortions are sought for a wide variety of reasons. Many are extremely private, and many are related to external factors.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) are just two of the major medical groups that have spoken out against the Texas law. Planned Parenthood and other groups are working relentlessly to advocate for Texans who cannot access abortion care and to provide as many safe alternatives as possible.
Abortion access is restricted at the moment. If you have any questions, contact your doctor and use the options available.