In 1879, the Supreme Court implemented the phrase “separation of church and state” for the first time. This clause was abundantly clear, stating a direct message that we must keep government and religion apart as neither topic relates to the other. So why is it that 142 years later, we still have to fight to represent this American ideal?
On Sept. 1, 2021, the state of Texas passed the Texas Heartbeat Act. This law bans abortions, a medical procedure that terminates pregnancies, as soon as the fetal heartbeat is heard. This is usually around the six-week mark of gestation, an extremely small window of time in which most women do not even know they are pregnant yet. Furthermore, if a woman does miraculously find out that she is pregnant before that date, there is very little time for her to make a choice and schedule an appointment.
The Texas Heartbeat Act also implements that abortion is prohibited even in cases where conception is a result of rape, sexual assault or incest. How does this align with any sort of right someone has to their body? If someone is sexually assaulted, why is it that they should be forced to go through a pregnancy for nine months and drastically change their body as a result of one of the worst days of their life? These painful and most times irreversible damages include stretch marks on the thighs, stomach, breasts and backside, expanding joints and ligaments, increased body temperature, and swollen feet, which all can occur during pregnancy. Following the birthing process, women experience stretched skin, mood swings, anxiety, postpartum depression, low iron levels, bloody discharge, menstrual pain and so much more.
I also think that it is interesting that a man does not have to face any consequences even though they share half of the responsibility for a pregnancy. Within this new law, there are punishments for women and even doctors, yet there is nothing for the impregnators, who could potentially abandon the fetus and refuse any social or financial responsibility in many cases of pregnancy.
Since a large majority of Americans identify as Christian (70 percent), this law does not seem ridiculous to force upon others because they believe the Bible forbids abortions as it is equivalent to murder under the common notion that “life starts at conception.” I find this interesting because, throughout the entire Bible, the word “abortion” is not mentioned a single time. But something that is written verbatim is that life begins at a baby’s first breath, Genesis 2:7.
Additionally, in a study of how people feel surrounding the topic of abortion, the Pew Research Center found that 79 percent of people who believe in God also believe that abortion should be “illegal in all or most cases.” Yet, a Christian pastor who preaches in a church with 72 percent followers who are also pro-choice, shares that, “when that bodily autonomy is taken away, to me, that is against Christian scripture, and is against the Gospel I believe in.”
I ask you that if you are someone who identifies as pro-life due to your religion, that you please put yourself in another person’s shoes who does not follow the same faith as you. I am agnostic, meaning that I neither believe nor disbelieve in an existence like God. Due to this, I find it incredibly frustrating that my choices are limited because of what someone in a different religion believes.
If you were to imagine that our country’s leaders represented a different religion than the majority of Americans and forced their beliefs on others, I can guarantee there would be an uproar and countless revolts. The simplest example I can think of is if a majority of our lawmakers were Mulism and implemented a law that consuming pork is illegal; it would not make sense for Catholics, Buddhists or any other followers of a different faith to be forced to align with this rule since they do not view this action as a sin.
Once I was old enough to understand this ongoing argument, I quickly realized that most “pro-life” standpoints are really only “pro-birth”. Given the following statistics, it seems as though very few followers actively donate to the foster care system, advocate, volunteer, become foster parents or adopt the children that are forced into a life where they can not be properly cared for.
In 2019, over 672,000 children spent time in United States foster care, and there are currently over 400,000 children in foster care facilities today. With this new law and constant pushback for a necessary medical procedure, this system will continue to overflow and expand exponentially. For example, In 2018, 619,591 abortions were legally reported in the United States of America. If abortion was outlawed and all of these fetuses were put into the foster care system, there would be over one million children in the foster care system.
If this continues every year, there is no way of knowing the horrifying amount of children that will inevitably be abused, neglected and homeless. Current foster care children are known to be seven times as likely to experience depression, six times as likely to exhibit behavioral problems, five times as likely to feel anxiety, three times as likely to have attention deficit disorder, hearing, impairments and vision issues and twice as likely to suffer from learning disabilities, developmental, delays, asthma, obesity and speech problems.
Even if you were to force a woman to go through with a pregnancy and have her put the fetus up for adoption, the quality of its life could potentially be incredibly poor, contradicting the title of “pro-life”. This also insinuates an insane potential overpopulation crisis, which our society is not equipped to support.
I am also aware enough to know that outlawing abortion will not stop it from happening, because if a woman is determined about terminating her pregnancy, she will. Performing this medical procedure in an unsafe environment will only increase complications for the fetus and woman, as it is actually one of the five leading causes of maternal mortality.
A common phrase that many pro-choice activists state is that a man should not have a say over a woman’s body, due to the fact that most politicians that create these harmful laws are men. However, it should be common sense that no one has the right to control anyone’s body when the main and most prominent effect is on oneself, period. This is regardless of gender, age or power.
If you are against having an abortion for yourself in the past, present or future due to religious or moral beliefs, that is wholly your right to believe as such; it is not your right, however, to impose that belief on another woman’s body against her will. My choice is my choice, and your choice is yours.
The Texas Heartbeat Act should not have ever been passed to the Senate, as it distinctly obstructs the United States of America’s first amendment and secular constitution. It is clear that this law is only based on the premise of religious belief that in return only reveals endless contradiction and consistent harm to women.
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