I could tell you story after story of women I have either known personally or who I have read intimate portraits about, who I viewed as having a legitimate need for an abortion.

One woman, who was pregnant with her fifth child, discovered that she had cancer during her second trimester. It was a treatable cancer as long as she received treatment promptly after the diagnosis. Unfortunately, though, if she received treatment for the cancer, such as chemotherapy, it would kill the fetus. An abortion was recommended by her doctor. Nonetheless, the couple felt that she should bear that child, and once the child was born, she would seek treatment for her cancer.

I hope that my friend knew she was valued, not just as a baby maker but as a mother and a woman. I hope she chose her path because she was concerned her life after cancer might have been limited, that she had a better chance of saving a life, even if it wasn’t her own.

Sadly, the woman died. She left her husband as a widower with five young children including an infant. He remarried in time, though, and despite challenges, the family lived happily ever after with a new mom.

But what if that mother had felt differently? What if she had wanted to do everything that she could to live for her existing children? Would that have been selfish? Would the government have let her abort the fetus? That depends on her state of residency.

Deep in the Heart
Texas passed a law (SB 8) last month that limits abortion to when cardiac activity is detected (at about six weeks) without exception, even in cases of rape, incest, or to protect the life of the mother. Most women don’t even know that they are pregnant at six weeks. Effectively, the Texas law bans all abortions. 

To enforce this law, Texas is using the power of the civil courts and is offering a $10,000 bounty to anyone who successfully sues someone who has aided and abetted (or attempted to aid and abet) a woman in getting an abortion after six weeks. The accused who lose a trial must pay the court and attorney’s fees.

The policy of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, a prominent church in Utah, is that abortion is morally wrong except in cases of rape, incest or to protect the life of the mother. Even the standards of this conservative church are more liberal than many abortion laws passed by states in the last few years.

Ironically, Utah conservatives have joined Mississippi and 23 other states in a lawsuit heading to the Supreme Court in a case regarding an abortion ban without exception, as an attempt to overthrow Roe v. Wade.

The Texas law passed last month has a new design that has not been proven yet. In all actuality, a civil case often takes years. There is the discovery process, where both attorneys and the judge must receive copies of any evidentiary documents. Then there is the completion of affidavits, or recorded witness statements. If the case goes to trial, it usually involves jury selection, which takes time. And finally, the court hearing must be scheduled on the docket.

Apparently, an organization called Texas Right to Life that provides legal advice and representation to abortion accusers has already stepped up to the mat. The organization’s website was shut down twice in one week, once by web host Go Daddy, which said the organization violated their terms of service, and most recently by Epik, a domain registrar. Planned Parenthood was also granted a temporary restraining order that prevents Texas Right to Life from bringing a lawsuit against the organization, also a general women’s health provider.

The Supreme Court could have intervened. They even added the Texas legislation to their shadow docket, but the court refused to block it, with a 5-4 vote the night the legislation passed. It was signed into law a few days later, in a press conference that included verbal comments from Governor Greg Abbott. In response to a question about the no-rape exception, he opted to  simply “eliminate rape.” Is he claiming to eliminate rapists? Or is he eliminating rape as a violation of the law and therefore men can now freely rape? No one really knows.

Needless to say, men can be raped too, but this battle in Texas seems to be against women, particularly women who get pregnant out of wedlock or as the result of an extra-marital affair who apparently “use abortion” as a way out of an “inconvenience” without recourse or punishment. Despite this belief, a majority of abortions are sought for economic reasons by women who already have children.

Adam and Eve
The antiquated Christian belief that women are temptresses like Eve has been around for millennia. It spawned out of the incorrect interpretation of the Garden of Eden story, that it was somehow “Eve’s fault” that Adam had to partake of the forbidden fruit. That Eve had allowed Satan to beguile her, and Adam was obligated to partake of the fruit in order to save Eve. Apparently, since Eve needed saving, it was now Eve’s job to be Adam’s helpmeet.

Sound familiar? That’s what I was told as a child. But it’s not true.

Amazingly, how we view the story of Adam and Eve has a strong impression on how we view the roles of men and women in Western societies today.

Research done by a woman named Beverly Campbell, in a book that was commissioned by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints called “Eve and the Choice Made in Eden,” reveals that the modern definitions of “beguiled” and “helpmeet” have morphed from the original ancient Hebrew and impair our understanding of this Bible story.

“Helpmeet” is derived from several words. “Help” is derived from two Hebrew root words, one meaning “to rescue” or “to save” and the other meaning “to be strong.” And “meet” means “equal to” and “fit for.” Like the right hand and the left hand, men and women are not the same, but they are meant to fit together. Eve is an equal partner to Adam.

“Beguiled” is a mistranslation from a rare verb in Hebrew that is no longer used, so it is impossible to translate in a few words. “It is safe to say that it indicates an intense multilevel experience which evokes great emotional, psychological, and/or spiritual trauma,” says Hebrew scholar Dr. Nehama Aschkenasy. “Eve was motivated by a complex set of inner drives, anchored not only in her physical, but also her intellectual nature.”

We don’t know how long Adam and Eve had lived in the Garden of Eden. They would stay in a paradisiacal state there until they understood their mission, that of love and sacrifice. Unable to have children in the Garden of Eden, Eve realized that the only way she could fulfill her role as the mother of all living was to partake of the forbidden fruit.

God told them that if they did partake of the fruit, they would die. But this commandment is the only one I know of with the caveat, “nevertheless, thou mayest choose for thyself.” Eve, and Adam, who also partook of the fruit, were willing to face death so that we, their descendants, could live. Both Adam and Eve played an important role in this decision. Adam was all about obedience; however, with this commandment, they were dealing with somewhat of a trick question. Ultimately God was pleased with their choice, I believe, but he did not force them to make that choice because the burden of doing so was great. They had to choose, and they chose correctly.

Now, at the risk of getting too Mormon doctrinal here, I will explain that although what Adam and Eve did, by partaking of the fruit, was technically a transgression, they were forgiven through Jesus Christ, Savior of the world. If you are a Christian, it makes a difference to understand this. It empowers me to know the value that God sees in me as a woman and to know the power of forgiveness.

The Impossible Decision
Like Adam and Eve, women who are considering the difficult decision of abortion are often faced with two or more conflicting conditions that drive their decision. They are pulled in many directions — moral, ethical, religious, social, marital or familial, medical, physical, and economic. Life is messy. The choice to have an abortion rises to the surface most often out of necessity. 

As long as women continue to have difficult pregnancies, experience medical challenges, get abused, and face economic brick walls — and as long as women are shamed mercilessly by their own family and friends for having an unwanted pregnancy by their own family and friends, there will continue to be a need for safe, legal abortion in this world. It’s time to give women a break.

Male domination has been a driving force in world cultures since the beginning of humanity, and the practice is unjust and wrong. Don’t get me wrong — I don’t have a problem with male authority, but not when they flaunt it with the intent to dominate or show superiority, we have a problem. In the United States, women have slowly gained privileges such as being able to own property (mid-1800s) and being able to vote (1920). Many women are still waiting for equal wages, paid maternity leave and affordable daycare, but these privileges do not lessen the role of men. Most couples rely on both of their incomes, and allowing women these privileges benefits the whole household.

The right to have an abortion must be included in that list. Yet so many politicians are more concerned about appearing moral than actually passing moral legislation. When abortion is legal, fewer women die of childbirth-related ails. When women can have safe abortions earlier in a pregnancy, there is less room for complications, and the chances are higher that a woman can bear a child later in life. The worth of souls is great — including pregnant women.

The 14th Amendment and the ERA
Gratefully, the Department of Justice has filed a lawsuit against Texas for SB 8, citing the 14th Amendment. And more recently, the DOJ has filed an emergency order to temporarily block the Texas law because of the undue burden it causes to Texas women, as well as to abortion clinics throughout the country these days. Texas women have been forced to travel to other states as far away as New York to get an abortion. Unfortunately, the hearing for the emergency order request was scheduled for two and half weeks in the future, and Texas women will go for a month before there is any hope of blocking the Texas law.

Long overlooked, the 14th Amendment offers incredible rights to Americans. The first section reads:

All persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

Ratified in 1868 to free Southern slaves, the 14th Amendment has faced many setbacks in the courts because of culture battles, but it was successful as the basis of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. It was the basis of winning a Supreme Court case in 2015 that permitted LGBTQIA+ to legally marry throughout the country. The 14th Amendment was also quoted during the Women’s Lib era as the basis of the rights they fought for, and they also wished to pass a new amendment, the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA), that would codify rights for LGBTQIA+ as well as abortion rights, among other things. The text is as follows:

Section 1: Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.
Section 2: The Congress shall have the power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.

To pass an Amendment to the Constitution, it must be ratified by three-fourths of the states (38 of 50 states). The deadline for the ERA was in 1982, and they were short two states. In recent years, new efforts have been made to pass the ERA. Nevada (2017), Illinois (2018), and Virginia (2020) have all ratified the amendment. In March, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a resolution that extended the deadline for the ERA. All that is left to do now is for the Senate to pass the resolution, as well, along with many other bills that face the Filibuster challenge.

The U.S. House of Representatives presently has a bill on its roster designed to protect abortion rights and to codify Roe v. Wade (1973). If passed, though, it is expected to face significant challenges in the Senate — unless Democrats can bypass the Filibuster.

Many states look at the Texas legislation as a blueprint, and plan to pass similar legislation, such as South Dakota, so federal legislation will be critical to protect women throughout the country.

In 2020, Utah passed a law banning abortion after 18 weeks, and that is presently the law here. Also in 2020, Utah passed a law banning all elective abortions (as opposed to those with a medical need), and all that is keeping it from being enforced is Roe v. Wade. In July 2021, Utah joined Mississippi and 23 other states in a lawsuit before the Supreme Court designed to overthrow Roe v. Wade.

Utah and the rest of this country face an existential threat that after 48 years (two generations), women may not be able to get a legal abortion in this country anymore. Such a legal decision would not negate the need for abortions, but simply punish those who get them.

Women are not just baby machines. We are intelligent, wise, industrial, creative, beautiful, resilient, and capable of making sound decisions. And, like Eve, we have value and are equal with men in the eyes of God. If the Supreme Court bans abortion, it will hurt our society from the ground up, likely in ways some men do not understand right now. Men need women – they need our insights, wisdom and perspective. I pray that our society does not go down this “Handmaid’s Tale” of digression.

May women unite and renew the fight to pass the ERA, and may Democratic Senators find a way to steer around the Filibuster. It is our best hope. 

About the Author
Emily Olsen is a 1UTP board member and the chair of the Utah State Democratic Progressive Caucus. She has an MBA and a bachelor’s degree in journalism. She lives in Ogden with her husband.

References
Lindell, Chuck. “Texas leaders vow to defend abortion law,” Austin American-Statesman, September 9, 2021. https://www.statesman.com/story/news/2021/09/09/texas-abortion-law-leaders-vow-defend-law-banning-most-abortions/8261683002/

O’Kane, Caitlin. “Texas ‘whistleblower’ website used for snitching on abortions shut down,” CBS News, September 7, 2021. https://www.cbsnews.com/news/texas-abortion-law-whistleblower-website-snitching-shut-down-twice/

Campbell, Beverly. “Eve and the Choice Made in Eden.” Copyright 2003.

Reardon, Sophie. “Justice Department seeks emergency order to block Texas abortion law,” CBS News, September 15, 2021. https://www.cbsnews.com/news/texas-abortion-law-justice-department-emergency-order-block/

Stracqualursi, Veronica. “House passes joint resolution to remove ERA deadline.” CNN, March 17, 2021. https://www.cnn.com/2021/03/17/politics/congress-era-deadline-joint-resolutions/index.html

Winslow, Ben. “Utah joins lawsuit to overturn Roe v. Wade,” Fox 13 News, July 29, 2021. https://www.fox13now.com/news/local-news/utah-joins-lawsuit-to-overturn-roe-v-wade