SSN Commentary

Texas Abortion Law Threatens Academic Freedom

Policy field

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University of Houston

Originally published as "Texas Abortion Law Threatens Academic Freedom," Inside Higher Ed., October 8, 2021.

As of Sept. 1, Texas has a new law that effectively overturns Roe v. Wade. This law bans abortion after six weeks and empowers private citizens as enforcers. While this law has received much warranted attention, including numerous legal challenges, what is missing is how it threatens educators with potential lawsuits.

To provide some background: abortion is an appropriate, relevant topic in a variety of college classes, including biology, history, political science, sociology and women’s studies. Lessons might address how abortion has always been around and will always exist. Coverage might further include that when legal, abortion is a safe, legitimate procedure; mandating that abortions go underground only causes harm to pregnant individuals, and that harm spreads. Lessons might also acknowledge that about 30 percent of pregnancies end in natural miscarriages (also called spontaneous abortions) -- a pregnant body does not automatically mean a future human.