Texas’s Byzantine System: How the New Abortion Law will Devastate Communities of Color

by Francesca Marquez
September 23rd, 2021

A new Texas law recently took effect banning all abortions once a heartbeat can be detected, which occurs after about six weeks of pregnancy. This benchmark, which is well before many women even realize they are pregnant, amounts to an outright ban on abortions.

The law makes no exceptions for cases of rape or incest, quickly becoming the nation’s strictest anti-abortion policy to date. After the conservative-majority U.S. Supreme Court sat idly by on an emergency request to stop this Texas law, Republican lawmakers got one step closer to their dream of ending abortion.

As is so often the case, it is people of color and those with low incomes who will bear the brunt of this restrictive policy.

A July research brief by the University of Texas at Austin’s Texas Policy Evaluation Project already found proof that this law would particularly affect “Black patients and those living on low incomes” since they often experience delays and financial challenges obtaining care.

As it is, abortion is not covered by Medicaid and most private insurance plans in Texas, barring many lower-income people from easily accessing abortions. Taking into account the other state-mandated ultrasounds and visits, all of which must be administered by the same physician, only further reveals how prior Texas laws already disproportionately impacted marginalized groups.

Each logistical obstacle when it comes to Texas’ abortion laws has always been rooted in structural inequities like poverty and racism. Now, with Texas’s new policy every difficulty becomes an almost insurmountable problem for those same communities of color.

Even more unfortunate, it is predominately these Texan communities of color who obtain abortions more often than their Caucasian counterparts.

According to a U.S. Centers for Disease Control Prevention report, nearly 39% of abortions reported in Texas in 2018 were Hispanic patients, almost 27% were Black patients, 27% white patients, and another 7% were patients from other racial and ethnic groups. More research suggests that disparities in contraception access may be partly to blame for higher rates of unintended pregnancy among people of color, hence their higher rates of abortions.

The aforementioned people with fewer resources, who cannot afford to go across state lines to get an abortion, will be hit the hardest by this new policy.

While abortions and other preventative measures clearly run along race and income lines, there is good reason to suggest that this new law will act no different, and likely worse, than its biased predecessors.

As the courts try to battle out the constitutionality of this law, countless women of color will be forced to carry pregnancies to term because the state says so. It is a Byzantine system that would deny women a right guaranteed in most civilized nations, but that is Texas’ preferred style.