Clock Is Ticking on Texas Trigger Law

With few exceptions, Texas will outlaw abortions on Aug. 25 when the state’s trigger law goes into effect.

The U.S. Supreme Court issued its official judgement July 26 in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the case that overturned Roe v. Wade. The judgment clears the way for Texas’ “trigger law,” which bans almost all abortions within 30 days.

The Republican-led legislature passed a trigger law last year in the event the U.S. Supreme Court reversed Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 case legalizing abortion.

Under the legislation Texas House Bill 1280, doctors who perform abortions could face life in prison and fines of no less than $100,000.

The law makes no exceptions for women who become pregnant due to rape or incest, or if severe or potentially lethal fetal abnormalities exist. Only women facing death or a “substantial impairment of major bodily function” will be able to access an abortion legally in Texas.

Texas Republican Gov. Greg Abbott praised the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision that triggered the state’s new abortion law.

“Texas will always fight for the innocent unborn, and I will continue working with the Texas legislature and all Texans to save every child from the ravages of abortion and help our expectant mothers in need,” Abbott said in a statement after the U.S. Supreme Court decision on June 24.

Texas Democrats have vowed in a statement to turn Texas blue and overturn the state’s “dystopian and extremist” abortion law. They hope the ruling will motivate their base to turn out for Democrat Beto O’Rourke, who is challenging Abbott in the governor’s race this fall.

A vandal left pro-abortion slogans on Loreto House, a crisis pregnancy center in Denton, Texas, on May 7, 2022. (Courtesy of Loreto House)

Texas became a leader in pro-life legislation last year when it passed the Texas Heartbeat Act, which outlawed abortions after about six weeks of pregnancy. The law offered a creative enforcement mechanism allowing private citizens to bring lawsuits against anyone who aided and abetted a prohibited abortion.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) closed his offices at the announcement last month in observance of the high court’s decision. In a statement, Paxton said the closures honor “nearly 70 million unborn babies killed in the womb since 1973.”

The Texas Legislature also funded the Alternatives to Abortion program, which received $100 million for the biennium. This program assists with diapers, formula, car seats, and classes on pregnancy and parenting.

Beto O Rourke
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Beto O’Rourke speaks to the media after interrupting a press conference held by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott in Uvalde, Texas, on May 25, 2022. (Chandan Khanna/AFP via Getty Images)

Meanwhile, state Democrats are preparing for a battle at the ballot box, according to Hannah Roe Beck, Texas Democratic Party Co-Executive Director.

“It is more important than ever that we elect Beto O’Rourke as governor, flip the Texas Legislature, and elect Democrats up and down the ticket who will overturn Greg Abbott’s draconian and brutal laws imposing the will of a tiny minority on the entirety of our state,” she said in a June statement.

Darlene McCormick Sanchez

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