Debate About SB8

Texas’ new Heartbeat Bill fuels strong opinions about abortion and the validity of the reasons behind terminating a pregnancy.


By Nike Adejumobi

On the 19th of March 2021, Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed a bill that for some represents a loss in the fight for abortion rights around the globe, but for others, a win in ensuring pro-life values: The Heartbeat Bill.

Senate Bill 8 prohibits abortions at six weeks of pregnancy, when an ultrasound can first pick up a pulse. 

Individuals who oppose the law argue that the cut off, just 2 weeks after a missed period-cycle, doesn’t provide enough time for people to come to terms with their pregnancy. Especially individuals who have irregular periods or neglect to track them. 

Opponents of the law add that a fetus’ heart is not fully developed until the 10th week of pregnancy, and instead what ultrasounds are picking up on is electrical activity waves. 

No matter, supporters counter, life is life, no matter the stage in development. Charlotte Taft, a past member of the Routh Street Abortion Clinic in Dallas says, “I think abortion is a kind of killing. What we are killing is not clear. You know you do a sonogram and there’s something alive. You do an abortion; it’s not alive anymore. This is not a secret.”

Protecting life. That’s what government officials claim to be doing through the new Senate Bill 8 (SB8). Yet for almost 50 years, the Senate has been preaching a different motive – the right to choice. 47 years ago on January 22nd of 1973, Roe v. Wade was passed. It concluded that the Fourteenth Amendment protected an individual’s right to decide whether or not to have an abortion.  It also noted that a state law prohibiting abortion that does not specify the stage of pregnancy is an infraction on human rights. 

SB8 bypasses this decision on two accounts. First, the stage of pregnancy is specified. Second, The bill empowers Texas citizens rather than a government officer or institution to enforce the law.

Plaintiffs, whether they be colleagues or relatives, if triumphant will receive up to ten grand for apprehending anyone who ‘aids and abets’ in abortive practices.

In addition, though there are exceptions for a handful of health conditions that could endanger the life of the mother, the bill does not permit abortions for pregnancies on account of sexual assault, rape, or incest.

Some contend that criminalizing abortions in this way doesn’t make them less likely, just less safe. It’s argued that the 1.3 million individuals worldwide who undergo these procedures every year will turn to less safe methods instead of continuing the pregnancy. 

A 1987 survey of almost two thousand women found that the most common reason for getting an abortion was to prevent the effect that a new child would have on daily responsibilities. Other common reasons involved lack of economic resources, physical or emotional maturity, or relationship complications involving the pair who conceived. Opposers of the bill add that the news often demonizes those who want an abortion, but choosing whether or not to have an abortion is an often long and complicated process that originates from a matter of necessity. 

Nevertheless, people with pro-life values agree that regardless of the reasons for which they make this decision, abortions are still a form of murder. 

No matter the political stance, it’s clear that Senate Bill 8 will influence more reformative abortion laws in America and around the world.