Over the duration of the last century, abortion in the Western hemisphere has become a largely controversial topic that affects every human being. In the United States, at current rates, one in three women will have had an abortion by the time they reach the age of 45. The questions surrounding the laws are of moral, social, and medical dilemmas that rely upon the most fundamental principles of ethics and philosophy. At the center of the argument is the not so clear cut lines dictating what life is, or is not, and where a fetus finds itself amongst its meaning. In an effort to answer the question, lawmakers are establishing public policies dictating what a woman may or may not do with consideration to her reproductive rights. The drawback, however, is that there is no agreement upon when life begins and at which point one crosses the line from unalienable rights to murder.
In 1973, in what has become a landmark ruling for women’s rights, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of a woman’s right to an abortion. Ever since, individual states have adopted, altered, and/or mutilated the edict to fit their agendas – Texas included. However, the decision made by the justices in Roe v. Wade didn’t set clear cut, inarguable demarcation lines, which has allowed the fiery debate to consume the nation. Rather than establishing a legal ruling of what life is, or is not, the Supreme Court has remained silent on the issue.
In the absence of an agreement determining when life begins, state sovereignty has allowed state legislators the authority to shape a state’s policy on abortion. Thus, what has occurred across the United States is the ability for states to enact legislation which places severe limitations on when and how a pregnancy may be terminated. For example, North Dakota recently made an attempt to restrict an abortion after a heartbeat is present, through abdominal ultrasound, often as early as the sixth week of a pregnancy (Dave, 2014). The law was challenged in U.S. District Court and overturned because the Supreme Court established during Roe v. Wade that “no state may deprive a woman of a choice to terminate her pregnancy at a point prior to viability” (Dave, 2014).
Arkansas has also recently attempted to reduce the time frame that a woman is allowed to have an abortion by setting the limitation at only 12 weeks, highlighting the state as enacting one of the most stringent statutes in the United States. As was passed, the Arkansas Human Heartbeat Protection Act would have banned most abortions at or after 12 weeks of pregnancy, if a fetal heartbeat could be detected by standard ultrasound. (McDermott, 2014). A federal judge however also ruled that the law violated the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision that a woman has the right to an abortion until the fetus is viable outside the womb.
Instead of trying to limit the time frame that a woman is allowed to have an abortion, Texas’ Governor Rick Perry signed into law Texas Senate Bill 5 which bans...