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The executives of the Student Democrats at UK and Student Republicans at UK come together in these dueling columns to debate the legality of abortion. Texas Senate Bill 8 sparked an uproar in either support or opposition of the legislation. As Kentucky has already enacted restrictions on abortion, this issue is not far from home for UK students.

Pro-choice

Written by Aidan O’Brien, Hallie Rice and Kiarah Raglin

President, Vice President and Secretary of the Student Democrats at UK

Abortion has been a hot topic in the media in light of current events, and this is not without reason. The recent law passed in Texas that bans abortions after six weeks of pregnancy is a threat to the reproductive rights of millions of people and sets up dangerous precedents that will almost certainly be copied by other states.

The law’s contents create a system that not only infringes on the rights protected by Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey; they also establish an enforcement system that has broad implications for getting blatantly unconstitutional pieces of legislation through the courts in the future.

There is no lens through which the Texas Senate Bill 8 looks morally correct, and there are a plethora of reasons for this. 

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UK College Democrats president Aidan O'Brien poses for a portrait on Wednesday, Jan. 27, 2021, at William T. Young Library in Lexington, Kentucky. Photo by Michael Clubb | Staff.

In banning abortions after six weeks of pregnancy, the law effectively bans all abortions, since most women will not know that they are pregnant at the 6-week mark, according to an article from The New York Times. 

As if that were not bad enough, the law’s enforcement is to be carried out by citizens, who can sue abortion providers if they provide services after the 6-week mark, according to a Texas Tribune article. 

This enforcement mechanism is essentially what allowed the law to pass through the Supreme Court unscathed. The law carves out new provisions that make it significantly easier to be a plaintiff in these abortion cases. Any plaintiff who wins their case against an abortion provider will receive a $10,000 reward and have their legal fees covered. The law simultaneously bans defendants from recouping their legal costs if they win the case, making lawsuits costly to them even when they succeed in defending themselves in court. 

Now that the law has made it past the Supreme Court, we should not expect its reach to stop in Texas. 

“While our own heartbeat bill remains tied up in litigation, we could consider adopting some of the Texas language when we return to Frankfort next session,” said Kentucky State Senator Whitney Westerfield , as reported by Tessa Redmond of Kentucky Today.

Although Texas’ law is the main focus in the news and other media at this time, similar laws need to be fought with protests, letters, court fights and donations to relevant organizations. 

We cannot stand idly in this. The reproductive rights of millions are being demolished to promote a false sense of superior morality by an ideology that views half the population as nothing more than hosts. 

Abortion should be the individual choice of the person affected by it, not the collective eyes of society. Today’s society should not resemble that of any past period. The Constitution was made to reflect and represent today’s ideals and the needs of its people rather than uphold archaic beliefs.

Pro-life

Written by Jacob Patterson

President of the Student Republicans at UK

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President of the Student Republicans at UK, Jacob Patterson, poses for a portrait on Wednesday, Sept. 22, 2021, in Lexington, Kentucky. Photo by Michael Clubb | Staff

Life begins at conception. Abortion is wrong in all cases except extraordinary health circumstances faced by the mother. Still, I support public funding for medical procedures to transfer the child out of the womb at an early and safe viability date for women who have suffered the unconscionable horror and trauma of rape. 

With the medical technology we have, which will continue to improve in the future, options exist for both victims of rape and their children to be protected. As a country, we should focus on developing such options.

Once someone is alive, we have a duty to protect their life. This, I think everyone should agree on. Acknowledging that life begins at conception stops people from discriminating based on physical and mental development levels. This allows society to acknowledge everyone’s personhood equally. 

Unfortunately, history is littered with the horrors committed by those who decided they had the power to decide who is human and who isn’t, and we should learn from those mistakes.

One can then deduce, correctly, that I support the Texas Heartbeat Bill, and so do a plurality of Americans. According to Big Data Poll, 46.7 percent of Americans oppose abortions after a heartbeat is detected, while only 32.1 percent support them being an option, with the remainder undecided.  

Even for people who generally consider themselves pro-choice, aborting a fetus after it has a heartbeat is too much. I look forward to more states passing similar legislation.

One question in this debate that isn’t focused on enough is, how has our society gotten to a point where a woman thinks abortion is her best option? 

According to research done by the Guttmacher Institute, 73 percent of women who had an abortion cited not being able to afford a baby at the time as a reason. Seventy-four percent cited disruption to education or career. Forty-eight percent cited single motherhood or relationship problems. 

There is a rot in the core of our society that cuts deeper than just the issue of abortion.

We have built an education system that puts pressure on women to avoid having children so they can focus on feeding the college tuition beast. We’ve built an economy that treats women and men like interchangeable parts of a machine stripped of individuality. We built a welfare net that gives males the ability to shirk responsibility. We’ve built a culture that tells young people that money and stimulating your nerve endings is more important than relationships and true joy

Abortion is both a symptom of and a contributing factor of the hollowing out of our society and people, especially women who see an 81 percent increase in risk of developing mental health issues after getting an abortion, according to CBS news. If America is going to find peace on this issue, we have to start addressing the issue in the core of our society, something for which I hope we find the stomach.