The state of Texas implemented an anti-abortion bill, Senate Bill 8, on Sept. 1, banning nearly all legal abortions across the state.
The ‘heartbeat bill’ bans abortions where a fetus’s heartbeat is detected. A heartbeat can be detected approximately six weeks into a pregnancy when few people already know they’re pregnant. This was one of over 600 laws that went into effect on Sept 1.
Planned Parenthood filed a public petition to the state court on Sept. 2, disputing the bill.
Mara Posada, director of public affairs for Planned Parenthood South Texas, weighed in on abortions and how the new bill affects pregnant people. The Mesquite interviewed her on Sept. 7, a week after the bill went into effect.
The heartbeat bill came into effect on Sept. 1. How does this affect your organization?
At Planned Parenthood, we believe that women and people who are pregnant, all pregnant people, have a right to control their own pregnancy and have bodily autonomy. Unfortunately, this bill prevents an abortion after there is fetal cardiac activity. Abortion is not allowed, so at Planned Parenthood South Texas where we have two health centers that provide abortion, both of those have temporarily paused abortion services.
How will this bill impact pregnant people?
People have a right to determine what to do with their pregnancies and right now, in the state of Texas, (they) don’t have that option with this ban prohibiting abortion even before many people realize they’re pregnant. The fundamental right to control their own pregnancies (and) to control their own bodies is taken away.
The bill bans abortion at the time a ‘baby’s heartbeat is detected in the womb,’ how far along in a pregnancy is a heartbeat detected?
Every pregnancy is different; every person is different. For a person with a normal menstrual cycle, their cardiac activity is usually detected around five to six weeks of pregnancy. This is before many people even realize that they’re pregnant. This is about the time that they might be getting a positive pregnancy test result.
Is it safe to perform an abortion before a heartbeat is detected?
At every stage of pregnancy, abortion is actually safer than pregnancy itself. Yes, abortion can occur at any stage in pregnancy, and they are effective. This has been the case for many years.
Do you believe the bill will minimize the number of abortions done in Texas?
It’s important to note that when government bans abortion, they’re not eliminating abortion or the need for abortion. What they are threatening or what they block is access to safe and legal abortions. People that need abortion oftentimes are still able to get an abortion or find an abortion or induce an abortion, that need does not go away.
Are there any exceptions to the new bill?
This bill is incredibly harmful because it bans abortion even before people realize that they are pregnant. There are no exceptions for rape or incest or even medical conditions really. The only exception is (a) medical emergency.
How does SB 8 affect college students?
I think that everyone should be concerned about this law, given that approximately one in four women will have an abortion by the time they are 45. When it comes to young people, about 60% of people who had an abortion in 2014 were in their 20’s.
How does this bill affect people in communities like the Southside?
Reports indicate people of color and those with low-income are most affected by abortion bans. People with means will be able to travel out of state with relative ease. For those who work hourly jobs, don’t get paid time off and can’t afford childcare, going out of state for an abortion can be insurmountable.
Will Planned Parenthood South Texas provide abortions before a heartbeat is detected?
Abortion now is prohibited. We have temporarily paused abortion services while our legal challenges make its way through the court.
What is Planned Parenthood South Texas doing to challenge SB 8?
We filed a federal lawsuit in July. We have also filed last week (the first week of September) a lawsuit in state court as well. We are exploring and taking into account all the legal options that we have available.