United States: after the adoption of a law that restricts the right to abortion in Texas, tech companies are mobilizing
Until now, similar texts from other American states had been struck down in court, but this time the Federal Supreme Court refused to block the law.
The online service provider GoDaddy, the two American leaders in chauffeured car reservations Uber and Lyft, the dating apps Bumble and Match Group (Tinder, OkCupid) … After the entry into force on Wednesday September 1 of a A law that prohibits the majority of pregnancy terminations in Texas , even in cases of incest or rape, companies in the tech industry are pushing for the right to abortion.
A website set up by the Texas anti-abortion group Right to Life, ProLifeWhistleblower . com, which encourages the public to denounce illegal abortions in Texas, was thus notified Thursday of its eviction by its internet host, GoDaddy.
Uber and Lyft for their part announced Friday that they would cover the legal costs of drivers in the event of a complaint against them under the new law. For their part, Bumble and Match Group, headquartered in Texas, have announced the creation of support funds. Bumble wants to “support the rights of women and people who want to have abortions in Texas,” tweeted Wednesday the company, founded and directed by women.
Social networks as a means of action
The law that came into force Wednesday prohibits abortion as soon as the embryo’s heartbeat is detected, around six weeks pregnant, when most women do not know they are pregnant. Only the medical emergency justifies an exception. Until now, similar texts from other American states had been struck down in court, but this time the Federal Supreme Court refused to block the law.
According to Texas law, it is not up to the authorities to enforce the measure, but to citizens, encouraged to file a civil complaint. Thus, the ProLifeWhistleblower site . com has urged the public to speak out against illegal abortions in Texas. The site has been inundated with false denunciations initiated by activists in favor of abortion rights. Calls relayed on social networks, such as TikTok and Instagram.
The nation’s highest court has allowed a Texas law banning most abortions to remain in effect, marking a turning point for abortion opponents who have been fighting to implement stronger restrictions for nearly a decade.
The Texas law, pegged a “fetal heartbeat bill,” bans abortions at the point of the “first detectable heartbeat,” which could happen around six weeks into pregnancy, although that timeframe isn’t specified in the measure. Medical experts say the heart doesn’t begin to form until the fetus it is at least nine weeks old, and they decry efforts to promote abortion bans by relying on medical inaccuracies.
Nonetheless, at least 13 other states with Republican-dominated legislatures have adopted similar bans, although courts have blocked them all from being implemented. Democrats call the new Texas law an unconstitutional assault on women’s health.
The growing anti-abortion campaign is intended to reach the U.S. Supreme Court. Abortion opponents hope the conservative coalition assembled under President Donald Trump will end the constitutional right to abortion as established by the high court in the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling.
The Term ‘Fetal Heartbeat’ Twists The Science
Advanced technology can detect a first flutter of electric activity within cells in an embryo as early as six weeks. This flutter isn’t a beating heart, it’s cardiac activity that will eventually become a heart. An embryo is termed a fetus after the eighth week of pregnancy, and the actual heart begins to form between the ninth and 12th weeks of pregnancy.
“It’s not a heartbeat, it’s the motion of the neural cells going up and down tubes in an embryo,” said Dr. Michael Cackovic, a maternal fetal medicine specialist at Ohio State University’s Wexner Medical Center, where some 5,300 babies are born each year.
Cackovic said ultrasound technology significantly advances each year, allowing physicians to provide better information to their patients, but he’s alarmed that such advances in medicine have been used to promote misinformation.
“We’re using technology to detect early cardiac motion, basically it’s a reflexive moment,” Cackovic added. “But now people are using this technology to forward their agenda.”
In 2013, a pioneering University of Leeds study found that while four clearly defined chambers appear in the human heart from the eighth week of pregnancy, they remain “a disorganized jumble of tissue” until around the 20th week, much later than previously believed.
Anti-Abortion Activist Taps Into Emotion
The notion that abortion as early as six weeks into pregnancy “stops a beating heart” is a concept originated by Ohio activist Janet Folger Porter, one of the nation’s fiercest advocates for banning the procedure.
Porter found that hearts were easy to market and punctuated her decade-long lobbying efforts by distributing heart-shaped balloons and teddy bears, all while side-stepping whether the packaging of the proposal was medically true.
She’s a polarizing figure, even among Republicans, due to her lobbying stunts and other controversial actions she’s exercised over the years. Notably, she arranged “testimony” via ultrasound by an in utero fetus. She also questions President Barack Obama’s citizenship and more recently served as spokeswoman for Senate candidate Roy Moore, of Alabama, who has denied allegations that he molested a 14-year-old girl.
Other States Jump On Board
It took Ohio nearly a decade to sign off on the abortion ban backed by Porter, but other states eventually got on board, after advocates for similar bans mirrored her tactics lobbying lawmakers and using emotive phrases such as “take heart” or “have a heart.”
Arkansas and North Dakota were among the first states to pass these types of bills in 2013. Iowa became the third in 2018. About two dozen states have since introduced similar measures inside their legislatures, but only Texas’ version has been enacted.
Not The First Time Abortion Has Sparked War Over Words
Plenty of battles have taken place over politically charged, inaccurate or vague terminology over abortion laws.
“Dismemberment abortion” is a term abortion opponents use to describe dilation and evacuation, a common second trimester abortion method. Others used “partial-birth abortion” to describe what is medically called intact dilation and extraction.
In the fight over fetal cardiac activity, anti-abortion advocates counter that using medical terminology dehumanizes the unborn.