Texas politicians turned women’s rights back to the 19th Century


Illustration by Anna Parini

Last summer, shortly after a date to Six Flags Over Texas, a thirteen-year-old girl in Dallas was falling in love for the first time. Her father could see it in the pencil drawings she made before bed. Instead of the usual, precise studies of koi fish and wildflowers, she’d sketched herself holding the hand of a boy in a Yankees cap, and enclosed the image in a pink-and-red heart. In the fall, the girl’s father permitted her to meet the boy, a tenth grader, after school one day a week. This spring, when he learned that his daughter was pregnant, he concluded that one day a week had been too many.

Within a day, his daughter, whom I’ll call Laura, came around to the idea that getting an abortion, soon, might be the best option…

One in four girls and women in the United States will, at some point in her life, seek an abortion. Yet, if the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade, which, in 1973, established a woman’s constitutional right to the procedure, the long journeys to oversubscribed clinics that have become a fact of life in Texas will almost certainly become the norm throughout much of the country. Post-Roe, legal authority will devolve to the states, thirteen of which have in place “trigger laws” that would ban all, or nearly all, abortions. Ultimately…twenty-six states are likely to outlaw the procedure. Some pregnant people in the U.S. who will be stripped of the right to legal abortion will go on to have illegal procedures. Others will be forced into motherhood…

And millions of families will find themselves grappling with the same calculations that Laura’s family was encountering this spring: How far are we able to go, financially and emotionally, to terminate a pregnancy? And, when it’s all done and paid for, how much farther down the socioeconomic ladder will we be?

Forcing women and families to make these choices because a shit-for-brains cluster of politicians have the power to impose their will is archaic and historically criminal. That these actions are legal is only further commentary on the backwardness of so-called States Rights. Inevitably enacting laws whose primary function is to take away rights guaranteed in states better educated, more advanced politically. Laws whose roots and reason exist again and again in attempts to drag people back into servitude based on gender and other equally stupid reasons.