COLUMN: Value all life, new and old

The Texas Heartbeat Bill bans healthcare providers from performing abortions for embryos over six weeks and incentivizes citizens to uphold the law, rather than enforcing it through a governmental entity. The bill’s structure is unlike other abortion-limiting bills because, due to its citizen-centered enforcement, it is less likely to be overpowered by abortion facilities filing lawsuits. Although I disagree with the “Big Brother” mentality this bill resorts to, I believe that this is the best Texas can do right now to begin the fight against abortion, and so the bill should be upheld and respected. 

Let’s discuss first why abortion should be banned by law. For many people from either party, this discussion becomes inherently political, religious and personal. I am here to tell you it’s fundamentally none of these things. Abortion is objectively ending the life of a human being and, as such, should be treated as a violation of human rights. 

Those who disagree with this assertion often question when life truly begins. Ian embryo is unable to survive outside the womb, why should a woman give up her bodily autonomy for something that is scientifically considered a parasite? Since there is disagreement between you and me on when life begins, and I’ve chosen to believe based on a scientific basis that it begins at conception, why would you risk being wrong and ending a human life? I’m borrowing this argument from this article (whose title I disagree with because it’s insensitive), but “imagine you're driving home at night and see something that might be a body lying in the road. You're not sure if it's a person, and if it is, you have no idea if they're alive. It could just be a garbage bag. But you know instinctively that the right thing to do is to swerve and avoid hitting it, just to be safe. You certainly don't want to take the chance of killing someone,” as written originally by Dillion.  This is the mentality the Heartbeat Bill and pro-life individuals hope to cultivate in our society. 

The most impactful discord between those who celebrate this Heartbeat Bill and those who feel as if it has taken away a necessary liberty is an understanding of human value. If human beings are inherently valuable, then abortion is wrong. If human beings are not inherently valuable, then murder of anyone is right, if it benefits me. A friend of mine compared abortion once to waking up one day fused to an unconscious man by IV tubes. Doctors around you told you that in order to save that man’s life, you had to stay put, even though it was exhausting your body’s resources, and you hadn’t consented to the procedure. She, knowing where her analogy ended, said she would stand up and leave him to die, especially if it was harming her. I don’t think she would. I know I wouldn’t, and I know you, if you were ever in that situation, would at least be acutely aware that whatever action you took would either protect or destroy a human life, which we would all agree is a serious choice. It deserves much more pondering and forethought than the sign I saw recently at a protest declaring, “Yeetus that Fetus.” If I came up with a similar quip for ending a human being’s life and publicized it, I would probably have a hard time finding a job. This would be particularly the case if it were a member of a vulnerable community in our society, like the children with disabilities my mother treats as a physical therapistAnd among those children, many of their mothers were told to consider an abortion because their child’s life wasn’t going to be viable or worthwhile. Because of my mother and other hard-working members of the medical community, many of those children exceed all original prognoses and live full, laughing, adventure-filled lives. Yet in our current society, an unborn human being’s life is seen as less valuable because it is less viable.  

As I previously stated, the current iteration of the Heartbeat Bill utilizes uncomfortable tactics to enforce what should be a nationally recognized precedent. Citizens may sue healthcare providers who abort after six weeks. Contrary to many rumors circulating, the bill specifically prohibits anyone from suing a woman for receiving an abortion. Based on these facts, I would argue that the intent behind the choice of citizen-enforcement is to protect the bill from lawsuits and to keep abortion clinics in check. I do not support anyone shaming a woman for an abortion. Rather than creating a culture of shame, distrust and division, we as individuals should foster love and understanding that makes room for all walks of life. Tyler-based pregnancy crisis center and adoption agency Living Alternatives offers an incredible example of what can be done to love women and love babies born into bad circumstances. 

I also understand that the “what ifs” of abortion, which we all know — cases of rape, incest, ectopic pregnancies and other horrible situations — flew into everyone’s mind the moment they realized what my stance was. For life-threatening pregnancies, I cannot suggest what a woman should do. The choice is hers, as it always is, as she is the one who acts. But whatever decision that individual chooses to make, my hope is that she will fully understand that there are two lives for which she must decide. In the case of life-threatening pregnancies, we move into “trolley problem” territory, where any decision — action or inaction — ends in the death of one or more valuable human being. 

For cases of rape, incest, teenage pregnancy or domestic abuse, the choice is still the woman’s, but it is still not just her body. It’s her choice to sustain a life or to end it, and that is just the objective fact. As someone who married a man who is the product of a teenage pregnancy, I am incredibly thankful for everyone who saw his life in that complex and inconvenient situation and honored it as valuable. 

No one should hate another human being for the choices they’ve made or what they support. And abortion isn’t a political stance. It certainly isn’t healthcare. As a woman who will always fight for my rights and cry happy tears when I see other women succeed, I do not count abortion as my right.  

The choice is and always will be yours — even under this new Heartbeat Bill, abortions after six weeks will still be possible for Texans thanks to external funding from organizations like Texas Equal Access Fund — but that doesn’t make it right. Take my words as a plea, not a challenge: value all life, even the life that makes yours harder, because at the end of the day, an unborn child’s life is just as inherently valuable as your own. 

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