Monday, December 6, 2021
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Lawmakers Are Becoming Increasingly Clever in Curtailing Our Rights

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The newest abortion law passed in Texas has severely impacted citizens across the state with its harsh restrictions. This law may be challenged in the Supreme Court, but despite the multitude of challenges made against it by abortion providers and the Biden administration, this law indicates an even bigger, yet ominous message: lawmakers are becoming increasingly clever in curtailing the rights of their citizens.

The Texas abortion law bans abortions for women pregnant around six weeks, the point at which cardiac activity of the fetus is detected. The law differs from restrictive abortion laws in other states due to the fact that its enforcement is done by private citizens rather than criminal prosecutors. For this reason, any citizen can sue any other citizen who “aids and abets” a woman seeking an abortion. 

Rape and incest are not exceptions for the law, meaning anyone who is seeking abortion services will be affected by it, ultimately impacting thousands of women across the state. Whereas other states have had restrictive abortion laws tied up by court cases challenging them, the Texas law continues to stand until the Supreme Court allows challenges.  

The cleverness of this law has sparked other states to follow its lead. Republican representatives in the states of Arkansas, Florida, South Dakota, Idaho, Indiana and Oklahoma have all devoted themselves to copying the Texas law and making it applicable to their own states.

Instead of focusing on dire issues that impact their communities and protecting their constituents’ rights, these states are choosing to focus on limiting rights.

Abortion isn’t the only issue on which lawmakers are imposing increasingly clever restrictions — it’s also voting rights. A wave of bills restricting voting rights across the country were enacted in the aftermath of the 2020 presidential election after former President Donald Trump questioned the validity of the election results. 

According to the Brennan Center for Justice, “[b]etween January 1 and July 14, 2021, at least 18 states enacted 30 laws that restrict access to the vote.” A majority of these restrictive voting laws were caused by the increase in misinformation and fraud allegations from the 2020 presidential election.

Voting before this wave of new laws was already difficult, but these changes have restricted the voting process even further. This showcases the ingenious means lawmakers use to curb our constitutional rights. For example, Texas lawmakers tried to severely limit the number of ballot-drop-off locations during the 2020 presidential election. Even the act of voting on Sunday after church, led by a predominantly Black movement known as “souls to the polls,” has been threatened under new voting laws in Georgia.

The simplest act we can do in response to these increasingly restrictive laws is vote. Whether it’s in our local city councils, in the upcoming 2022 midterm elections or the upcoming 2024 presidential election, voting is how we can encourage our representatives to fight for the issues we care about. 

To make a further impact against limitations on our personal rights, constituents can call local or state representatives and urge them to take stances against restrictive legislation. Always be sure to do adequate research on recent legislation that may be affecting your community or state, too.

Whether it’s legislation on abortion or voting, lawmakers have recently taken on more active roles in limiting our personal rights — it’s up to us to vote them out of office and urge them to efficiently adapt to the needs of our communities.

Camelia Heins is an Opinion Intern for the fall 2021 quarter. She can be reached at cheins@uci.edu