Texas Has Assaulted the Constitutional Right to Abortion | Opinion

The following is a lightly edited transcript of remarks made by Jessica Mason Pieklo during a Newsweek podcast debate on Texas' new abortion law. You can listen to the podcast here:

First of all, thank you so much for having me on and for the opportunity to talk about what is going on with the assault on abortion rights and access across the country.

So, Lila offered up a couple points that I would really love to jump into. First of all, she said that the Texas law is an important moment to protect all children at birth. And I absolutely agree that all children at birth should be protected. I would point out that abortion is not about protecting birth. We were talking about developing pregnancies here and, at six weeks old, we don't even have an embryo yet. The science is very clear about what is happening, biologically speaking. And I'm sure we're going to have plenty of time to talk about the science behind these restrictions here, and the junk science that is promoting them.

Pro-choice supporters and staff of Planned Parenthood
Pro-choice supporters and staff of Planned Parenthood hold a rally outside the Planned Parenthood Reproductive Health Services Center in St. Louis, Missouri, May 31, 2019, the last location in the state performing abortions, after a US Court announced the clinic could continue operating. SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images

But Lila brought up the 14th Amendment and I'm really hoping we have an opportunity to do a deep dive into this because on the 14th Amendment, the courts have had a lot of history and time to talk about what it means to be a person, as far as the Constitution is concerned. And they look at this question a lot and they have answered it many, many times. And they have said that there is one category of events that has to happen first, before the Constitution recognizes full personhood, and that is birth. And that also aligns with a lot of faith traditions, which I'm hoping we get the opportunity to talk about today as well, because a lot of faith traditions recognize personhood—the act of becoming a full human being—at the moment of birth. So that is also very important, as we are talking about public perceptions around abortion and the current debate.

Lila also mentioned something really important, which is, the moments of when life begins and conception, because what we have at the Supreme Court is a case in Dobbs vs. Jackson Women's Health that attempts to ban abortion at 15 weeks—and that's before pregnancy is deemed viable. That's an important constitutional marker, but that's not the marker that Ms. Rose brought up here—she brought up a very different marker, which is life at conception. And so already, there is goalpost-moving that's happening here. And so I think that's important. I really am looking forward to a robust debate around these issues, because I think that the public does deserves and is entitled to it. But I also want to be very clear what we're talking about here.

Jessica Mason Pieklo is senior vice president and executive editor of Rewire News Group, and co-host of the "Boom! Lawyered" podcast.

The views expressed in this article are the writer's own.