Last month, delegates to the Republican Party of Texas Convention voted to make abolishing abortion one of their legislative priorities for 2023.

Just days later, the Supreme Court announced its decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, returning the question of abortion’s legality to the states.

Abortion is now illegal in the Lone Star State, but there are still pro-life efforts for the Legislature to prioritize. Last week, Texas Scorecard interviewed Texas Right to Life’s new president, John Seago, to learn more about the pro-life movement’s next steps.

“Right now, abortion is illegal in Texas,” said Seago. “In a couple of weeks, we’re going to see a new law and some new language take effect, but right now the reality is that elective abortion is illegal in Texas. And there is nothing the left can do to change that fact.” 

Seago was referencing last week’s news of a Harris County judge freezing a 1920s pre-Roe law banning abortion in Texas. When Roe v. Wade was passed federally, the law was never repealed; but now that Roe has been overturned, Texas’ pre-Roe ban is back in full effect.

“What a court in Harris County did was they came in and gave a couple of clinics a temporary restraining order and [said] that [they would not] be prosecuted under this old law from these specific DAs and these specific government officials,” said Seago. “But even that temporary restraining order doesn’t change the underlying fact that abortion is illegal, and if you’re not covered by that temporary restraining order, you could actually be prosecuted.” 

The restraining order was dismissed by the Texas Supreme Court late last week, which officially put the pre-Roe abortion ban into effect. 

In Texas, the state Legislature also passed a trigger law that would go into effect 30 days after a judgment from the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade. The law would make performing an abortion a felony, and doctors performing an abortion would be fined up to $100,000 per abortion and have their medical license revoked. The law also states an abortion would be either a first- or second-degree felony.

 It should also be noted that Texas law specifically excludes miscarriages and ectopic pregnancies from the definition of abortion. 

Now that Roe v. Wade is overturned, Texas Right to Life says the biggest priority for the pro-life movement is actually enforcing our laws.

In some parts of the state, liberal district attorneys have said they will not prosecute those who perform abortions. Seago says they need to be held accountable. 

“We’ve already seen half a dozen district attorneys come out and say they refuse to prosecute if anyone is breaking the pro-life laws. So, they could have an OBGYN right in their city that is advertising illegal abortions, and that district attorney is not going to do anything about it. … These are enforcement issues; we have the law that we want, and now we have to make sure we have the tools for enforcement.”

 

Emily Wilkerson

Emily is a summer fellow for Texas Scorecard. She is a senior at the University of Oklahoma, studying journalism with a minor in political science. She enjoys investigative journalism and making sure that every side of a story is being told.

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