EL PASO — The issue of abortion rights is being hotly debated in congressional races across the country following the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade four months ago. Much has been said and reported about how new abortion restrictions affect the healthcare choices of pregnant people, but it is also changing the way men and women are approaching dating. It is especially true in Texas, which severely restricted abortions last year and then banned the procedure after the Supreme Court’s decision.
The University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) campus is less than an hour’s drive to New Mexico, where, unlike in Texas, abortion is legal. The issue is something some UTEP students have been finding themselves talking more about.
“I do talk about it with friends, family, and also classmates as well. That's actually one of the topics that's been more popular within my classes regarding what exactly is going on with Roe versus Wade being overturned? What are the complications with that, and what exactly is happening within the community,” Gabriella Zambrano, a UTEP junior, told Spectrum News.
With abortions now largely banned in Texas, Zambrano said it has become important for her to have a life partner who she can openly communicate with and who shares her values about abortion rights.
“It could create complications in the future, if we're not ready to have children yet. It also concerns me because I'm not being able to have that right to be able to choose what happens with my with my body, if something were to go happen, something could happen with complications that could affect my health,” she said.
Some relationship experts believe the new legal landscape regarding abortions has forced some Texans to have conversations about political views much earlier when it comes to dating.
“Even before they've gone on a date with someone, if they experience where the person that they're chatting with, (they) don't really carry this weight or the sense of responsibility on their shoulders or on contraception, then they don't go further,” Shaina Sigh, an Austin-based dating coach told Spectrum News.
Singh, who is also a licensed clinical social worker, said she noticed after the death of George Floyd and the social justice protests that followed, potential dating partners became more eager to explore each other’s political and social views.
“Before 2020, what I would often see is that people were more willing to take a chance on somebody that even if their values didn't align, but now,” Singh said. “The stakes are really high, and there is no compromise for people especially when you are part of a marginalized group. People are realizing that I want a life partner and I want a life partner that has my back.”
Zambrano said she wants to continue living in Texas but thinks it is becoming a harder decision to plan a family in the state, given the abortion restrictions and few exceptions.
“It’s honestly very disappointing where I do love living here but it's also making me very upset and concerned for those who don't have the proper help that they need for their own health and well-being,” Zambrano said.
Conversations about dating, relationships and family planning are changing in the aftermath of new abortion restrictions and bans.