Forty-three years ago today the U.S. Supreme Court made a landmark decision. They ruled that the right to privacy included a woman’s choice to have an abortion. Since then, abortion has remained at the forefront of a battle on women’s health rights.
Despite the Supreme Court’s ruling 43 years ago, states across the nation have passed laws to make abortion as inaccessible as possible.
More recently, Texas just enacted legislation that makes it more difficult for women, especially minors, seeking to get an abortion. The bill states, “A physician shall presume that a pregnant woman is a minor unless the woman presents a valid government record of identification showing that she has a reached the age of majority.”
In simpler terms: a woman has to prove she is not a minor in order to obtain an abortion.
As for women who are minors, who do not want to notify their parents or guardians that they are seeking an abortion, in which they need written consent to do so, this new piece of legislation provides an alternative. According to HB-3994, an underage woman can appeal to a court to receive an abortion without parental consent.
Seems simple enough, right? No.
According to HB-3994, The minor files an application to the court and then must hire an attorney. If she cannot get an attorney, then the court is kind enough to assign her an attorney. A court hearing is scheduled, in which she must attend in person.
During the hearing, the woman must meet criteria the court will consider in deciding to grant her to obtain an abortion without parental consent. As HB-3994 states, the minor must show she is mature and informed of her decisions, whether abortion really is in her best interest, why she wants an abortion and she may be subjected to a mental health evaluation before a decision is made.
Laws banning abortions after 20 weeks have been a priority for many Republican legislators, most notably and recently in Kansas on Jan. 22. According to an NPR article, Kansas’ Supreme Court struck down a law banning abortions after 20 weeks.
In 2015, Arizona Senator Trent Franks pushed for legislation that would place a ban on abortions after 20 weeks and though it passed through the House, it didn’t go further.
According to research from Guttmacher Institute, lawmakers across the nation have passed 231 abortion restrictions since 2010. Guttmacher Institute also reported that in 2014, 27 states were considered hostile for abortion rights and 18 were extremely hostile.
Why is this year so important in particular? With the 2016 presidential election quickly approaching and Republican control of the House and Senate, a lot is at stake for women’s health, especially regarding abortion.
Meghan is a pug enthusiast interested in social justice, environmental issues, Latin America and women’s rights (both here in the U.S. and around the world). When she’s not worrying about postgraduate plans, Meghan binge-watches Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Jane the Virgin. She’s still uncertain about the career path she will pursue after graduating, but would like to work in international development and public policy one day. Until then, she’ll keep watching videos of Doug the Pug while sipping whatever bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon is on sale.
Photo credit: Nelson Shanks, The Smithsonian, via The Huffington Post