Abortion bill ignites divided responses among students

By Emily Cousins | Staff Writer, Video by Danika Young | Broadcast Reporter

The heartbeat bill has sparked huge controversy after going into effect on Sept. 1. Baylor students are divided, as some rejoice and others are saddened.

The heartbeat bill bans abortions as early as six weeks — or when a heartbeat is detected. The bill also details that private citizens may sue anyone involved in helping someone get an abortion, including anyone who drives the person to the clinic, helps pay for the abortion or performs the abortion.

Fairfield, Calif., sophomore Haika Mrema said she thanked God when the bill went into effect.

“I believe that this was another victory for life,” Mrema said. “And I am pleased and overjoyed knowing that more innocent lives will be saved and will get the chance to experience the precious gift of life that we can easily take for granted.”

Austin senior Annalee Fletcher said that she was angry and scared when she heard the news and that she thinks the bill knocks America back 50 years.

“I just think that it’s a boost for misogynistic culture in our already-existing patriarchal system,” Fletcher said. “It’s so, so frustrating.”

The Supreme Court blocked a lawsuit that challenged the heartbeat bill on Sept. 1, stating it was not within the Supreme Court’s jurisdiction to decide whether the bill was constitutional.

Attorney General Merrick B. Garland said in a statement that the Justice Department will protect people’s reproductive rights.

“We will not tolerate violence against those seeking to obtain or provide reproductive health services, physical obstruction or property damage in violation of the FACE Act,” Garland said.

According to Pew Research Center, a 2019 survey showed that 70% of the public believed Roe v. Wade should not be overturned.

Fletcher said it is frustrating that the religious belief that life begins at conception rules the law.

“How is that actual separation of church and state?” Fletcher said. “I think there’s a lot of confusion because I don’t really think that it’s pro-life. I honestly just think it’s anti-choice. It annoys me when people say people that are pro-choice are actually pro-abortion. I simply wish that people could have the option. That’s what it’s really about — is that it’s up to you and your health and your beliefs. So if you believe that you shouldn’t have an abortion, you do not have to have one, but you should not have any say in what I do. It’s obviously so centered around religious beliefs.”

Mrema said she prays that whatever breaks God’s heart will break her heart.

“We were all a clump of cells at one point, but I thank God that every single one of our mothers recognized our value and recognized how precious life is and gave us that opportunity to experience it for ourselves, choosing life for each and every one of us,” Mrema said. “Everyone deserves that same opportunity. There’s a reason we grieve over miscarriages. There’s a reason we grieve over when a pregnant woman decides to use harmful substances like drugs or alcohol while she’s pregnant — that could hurt or kill her child — or when the victim of a double homicide is a pregnant woman … It’s because we see the value of life that that unborn child has, and the grieving shouldn’t be any different.”

Lyft and Uber leadership has denounced the bill and said they will cover legal fees if drivers are taken to court.

“We want to be clear: Drivers are never responsible for monitoring where their riders go or why,” Lyft co-founders Logan Green and John Zimmer said. “Imagine being a driver and not knowing if you are breaking the law by giving someone a ride. Similarly, riders never have to justify, or even share, where they are going and why. Imagine being a pregnant woman trying to get to a healthcare appointment and not knowing if your driver will cancel on you for fear of breaking a law. Both are completely unacceptable.”

Lyft announced it will also donate $1 million to Planned Parenthood.

Fletcher said she is worried about people who have been victims of rape and incest not having access to abortions in Texas.

“There’s a very prevalent rape culture in our country,” Fletcher said. “There are literally 12-year-olds who get pregnant from incest, and you’re telling me that there’s nothing that they can do about it? You’re already in such a traumatizing situation. It wreaks havoc and causes so much more trauma. That’s just so much unnecessary suffering. Imagine if … you have that terrible event happen to you, possibly with a family member, and they think that like, for lack of a better term, a clump of cells is more valuable than her already-ongoing life and story and trauma.”

Mrema said even in cases of rape and incest, abortions should not be performed.

“I think of having someone tell them their reason for conception is a justifiable reason to rob them of the opportunity of life and that they’re less deserving of life than someone else because of something they couldn’t control, like being conceived through rape or incest,” Mrema said. “And so I never think the innocent child … should have to pay for the wicked acts of an individual that committed that crime. And so when they had nothing to do with it, their life isn’t less valuable … than someone else who was conceived in a different circumstance.”

Tonya Capson, health services regional director for Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas, said to a reporter at the Waco Tribune-Herald that relationships with abortion clinics in surrounding states were made in advance to help people in need of abortions.

“We had to really redo things,” Capson said. “We had to think outside the box. We had to make sure we were following the law in Texas, and so that really meant that we had to stop providing services in one way and start looking at providing services in another way overnight.”

Mrema said Christians need to do more than oppose abortions.

“Christians can go and volunteer at these [pregnancy] resource centers that are all over Texas especially, and pray over facilities like Planned Parenthood who’ve performed these abortions and all those things, and just be of service to those out there who need that help when going through a hard circumstance like that,” Mrema said.