Health

Texas abortion law hurt survivors of rape and incest, activists say

The Safe Alliance in Austin, Texas supports survivors of child abuse, sexual assault, and domestic violence. Before the new Texas abortion law came into force, the organization counseled a 12-year-old child who was repeatedly raped by his father.

Piper Stege Nelson, Chief Public Strategy Officer of the Safe Alliance, said the girl’s father kept her out of the house.

“She got pregnant,” Nelson said. “She knew nothing about her body. She certainly didn’t know she was pregnant.”

The girl eventually got help, but if this happened after September 1, when state law came into force, her options would have been significantly reduced, Nelson said.

In Texas, abortion is banned during the 6th week of pregnancy. A new law, known as SB 8, represents the country’s most restrictive ban on currently valid procedures. According to a recent NPR / PBS NewsHour / Marist national poll, Texas law is unpopular across the political spectrum.

In particular, the law is against public opinion, with the exception of victims of rape and incest. For decades, Americans have consistently endorsed the strict abortion ban exception, even in Texas. State social workers said it was doing serious harm to survivors of sexual assault.

According to Nelson, many people are unaware that they are pregnant until six weeks later, but timeframes are especially problematic for those who are repeatedly raped and abused. To deal with the trauma of abuse, she said, they often become insensitive to what is happening to their bodies.

“That dissociation can lead to separation from reality and the fact that she is pregnant,” Nelson said. “So again, she doesn’t know she’s pregnant by six weeks, and she can’t resolve that pregnancy.”

Monica Falkner, an Austin social worker who has worked with survivors of sexual assault, said recovery from the assault would be difficult without the option of aborting the pregnancy.

Forkner, head of the Texas Children’s and Family Welfare Institute at the University of Texas at Austin, said:

Forcing pregnancy to maturity can be economically, psychologically, and sometimes physically harmful. For survivors, the burden will further rob the agency after their sense of safety and control has already been compromised, Nelson said.

“So when you have something like SB 8, what it does is control from the survivor at the moment they need that power and control over their lives to begin healing. And take away more power. “.”

Falkner said it was important to give survivors of sexual assault options on how to move their lives forward. She said SB8 “clearly robs them of the choices they have.”

Carole Joffe, a professor and sociologist studying abortion policy at the Bixby Center for Global Reproductive Health at the University of California, San Francisco, said that despite widespread public opinion, most of the anti-abortion bills introduced across the country in recent years are: It states as follows. There are no exceptions to rape or incest.

“What we’ve seen over the years is a dramatic escalation,” she said. “I think Texas is in the bright spotlight because we look down on the needs of women and girls, or those who can get pregnant even if they aren’t women.”

The history of abortion exceptions is complex. Joffe said that towards the end of the 20th century, it became more common for states to include exceptions to rape and incest. She said the tendency to rule out rape and incest exceptions began about 10 years ago, after the tea party case came to power in Congress and many state capitols. As some legislatures became more politically conservative, anti-abortion groups gained influence in the legislative process. Meanwhile, the public’s view of the feeling that abortion should be allowed in the case of rape and incest is very stable, as some state legislatures have tightened restrictions on abortion, Joff said. Said.

“The kind of restrictions we see are the product of increased power in the legislature of the anti-abortion movement,” she said.

After the controversial abortion law was passed in Alabama in 2019, a coalition of anti-abortion groups sent letters to National Republican officials. In it, the group called on Republican leaders to “rethink the issues decades ago” regarding the exceptions to rape and incest.

In Texas, the growing power of hardliners and conservatives in the state has helped anti-abortionists to promote more restrictive legislation.

John Seago, legislator for Texas Right to Life, an influential anti-abortion group that promoted SB8, said political changes in the Texas State Parliament have made it easier to enact stricter abortion legislation.

“Over the last decade, the Republican majority has increased in Texas,” he said. “And around 2011 and 2013, we had enough votes to pass a strong bill.”

“Strong” means that Seago does not have to make any compromises, such as allowing an abortion when severe fetal abnormalities are detected. Texas withdrew those exceptions a few years ago. And now, Texas’ new law is no exception in the case of rape and incest, Seago said, which is more in line with the underlying philosophy of groups like him.

“We’re talking about innocent human life-it wasn’t their crime, and it wasn’t their vicious behavior that sacrificed this woman,” he said. “So why should they be punished?”

The problem of pregnancy resulting from sexual assault is not a minor problem. According to one study, it is estimated that about 3 million women are pregnant after rape in the United States.

This story is part of a partnership that includes KUT, NPR, and KHN.

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Texas abortion law hurt survivors of rape and incest, activists say

Source link Texas abortion law hurt survivors of rape and incest, activists say

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