In an interview with Texas Scorecard during the 2022 Republican Party of Texas Convention last week, Right to Life of East Texas director Mark Lee Dickson explained why the measures passed by the Texas Legislature do not provide adequate protection for the unborn if Roe v. Wade is overturned.
When a draft of Justice Alito’s opinion was leaked to Politico in early May, it became clear that the Supreme Court could potentially overturn the landmark abortion decision. If this contentious case is repealed, the pre-Roe v. Wade criminal abortion statutes and the recently passed Texas Trigger Ban will both go into effect.
The pre-Roe criminal abortion statutes—which declared abortion to be a criminal activity except when performed to save the mother’s life—were never struck from the record. However, since the ruling of Roe v. Wade 49 years ago, the courts have viewed this law to be unconstitutional and, therefore, unenforceable. If Roe v. Wade is retracted, these pre-Roe statutes could once again become constitutional and enforceable law.
In addition, the Legislature recently passed a “trigger” law that would ban all abortions if Roe v. Wade is overturned by the Supreme Court. (The law would go into effect 30 days after the ruling.)
However, Dickson argues that these protections are not enough.
“Here in Texas, abortion is already outlawed with the pre-Roe statutes, but we also have the Trigger Bill. But every state will have to make sure that they have laws on the books that protect innocent life [if Roe v. Wade is overturned],” said Dickson.
Dickson says each city will have to take responsibility for banning abortion within their city limits due to public officials’ tendency to ignore pro-life laws.
“Here in Texas, what do we have? We have rogue mayors and city councils and DAs [who] don’t care about the laws,” Dickson explained. “They want to find any and every excuse not to enforce the laws to do everything they can to support the murder of innocent children.”
To alleviate the possibility that elected officials will ignore the pro-life laws, Dickson argued that private citizens must have the ability to file lawsuits against entities found in violation of the law.
“And so, we are going to have to be creative, and we are going to have to make sure that the private enforcement mechanism is in play even for children that don’t have a detectable heartbeat.”
Individual cities have the authority to determine what constitutes a crime within their city limits. It is the responsibility of these cities, therefore, to ban abortion within city limits and to allow private citizens to file lawsuits. The 50 cities that have done so, known as Sanctuary Cities for the Unborn, have the most protection for unborn children.