Editor’s Note: This story has mentions of abortion, sexual assault, incest and other graphic details that may be triggering for some readers.
Texas lawmakers passed a new bill, also referred to as the “heartbeat bill”, which makes all abortions illegal after a fetal heartbeat is detected. This will make abortions inaccessible to Texas residents after six weeks, and there are no exceptions for cases of rape or incest.
This will also give citizens of Texas the ability to sue anyone they suspect is providing abortions illegally within the state.
Alison Gaulden, a professor at the Reynolds School of Journalism and previous public affairs strategist for Planned Parenthood Mar Monte, said she is frightened due to the Supreme Court’s failure to act.
“There are several states who have tried to pass similar kinds of legislation, but typically the Supreme Court will rule it unconstitutional,” Gaulden said. “In this case, the Supreme Court is more sympathetic towards people who are opposed to abortion as healthcare.”
Gaulden stated that she has seen this coming for the past thirty years, but nobody believed her. She is confident in the fourth generation of feminists to awaken and realize that their rights of autonomy are at risk.
“Until women fully are autonomous and own their whole body, meaning no part of their body is legislated, women are not free,” said Gaulden.
She acknowledged that this is not a partisan issue and that there are people on both sides who are pro-choice or pro-life— or “anti-choice” as Gaulden refers to them. She encourages people to vote and make their voices heard from congress to the school board.
“Students are paying attention and they are fired up which gives me hope,” Gaulden said. “I have seen more students who believe reproductive rights belong with the woman. It does not mean they are pro-abortion, they just acknowledge that it is not their business.”
Celeste Dugger, a University of Nevada, Reno student from Lubbock, Texas, fears going back home due to the new bill. They state that they do not want to be in an environment where they feel as though their rights are being taken away.
“The bill was first proposed in my hometown so I have been hearing about it for a while,” said Dugger. “I was so angry when I heard that it passed. I found it extremely misogynistic for men to think that they can take abortion away.”
Dugger is forced to think of the repercussions this poses to themselves and others.
“I have had friends raped at parties, and if they had gotten pregnant from that with no accessible abortions it would have ruined their lives,” Dugger said.
According to the Guttmacher Institute, one in four women will get an abortion by the age of 45, making it one of the most common medical procedures in the country. Between 2015 and 2019, approximately 121 million unintended pregnancies occurred, with over 61 percent ending in abortion.
“I have seen other counties in the U.S. start to propose bills like this,” Dugger said. “This makes me really nervous, especially because Nevada is a swing state.”
Mississippi, Arkansas, Louisiana, Tennessee, South Carolina, and many other states are proposing similar abortion restrictions.
Some students at the university are supportive of the new bill. Gizelle Mendoza, a sophomore pre-nursing major and devout Christian, hopes that the Texas bill leads to Roe vs. Wade being overturned.
“I was glad when the bill passed because I had a moment where I had to consider an abortion,” Mendoza said. “I used to be pro-choice, but I once had a pregnancy scare and I thought about it; I could not physically or mentally handle it.”
While Mendoza is glad that the bill has been passed, she still has some difficulty coming to terms with all aspects of it.
“In the case of rape, I do feel that abortion should be accessible for people,” said Mendoza. “They had no control over that or any say in what was happening.”
Mendoza believes that if Texas is to make abortions illegal, all forms of contraceptives need to be free to advocate for safe sex to prevent pregnancies from even happening.
“The argument of ‘my body, my choice’ is false because they may be in your body, but you do not have control of their body,” said Mendoza on her beliefs on the popular pro-choice saying.
According to Planned Parenthood, 79 percent of Americans do not want Roe v. Wade, the 1974 Supreme Court ruling that abortion is a constitutional right, to be overturned.
As of Sept. 9, the Biden Administration has sued the state of Texas claiming that the new bill is unconstitutional in the hopes that the Supreme Court will look over the bill again.
The Women’s March will host a nationwide protest on Oct. 2 to stand up for women’s reproductive rights, as a way for people and women to make their voices heard.
Emerson Drewes can be reached via email at AndrewMendez@sagebrush.unr.edu or via Twitter @NevadaSagebrush.