Texas Alliance for Life’s Response to Supreme Court’s Dobbs Opinion
Friday, the United State Supreme Court released its opinion in the much-anticipated case, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, to answer the question of whether all pre-viability prohibitions on elective abortions are unconstitutional.” Justice Samuel Alito wrote the opinion joined by justices Thomas, Gorsuch, Kavanaugh, and Barrett. Chief Justice Roberts filed a concurring opinion. The decision completely overturns the 1973 Roe v. Wade and 1992 Planned Parenthood v. Casey precedents that have prevented states from protecting unborn babies from abortion before viability. Alito wrote, “… procuring an abortion is not a fundamental constitutional right because such a right has no basis in the Constitution’s text or in our Nation’s history.” The Court’s new opinion allows state legislatures to regulate and even ban abortion as they did prior to Roe.
We are ecstatic. The Supreme Court finally remedied a terrible decision made nearly half a century ago that profoundly damaged society in America. Legal abortions have claimed the lives of more than 62 million unborn children and have hurt countless women. That will no longer be the case in Texas. Roe’s unsound and ultimately indefensible reasoning cost the trust of millions of Americans in the Supreme Court. This decision begins to restore confidence in the Supreme Court and its application of constitutional principles.
The Court’s long-overdue decision will have widespread positive changes in Texas. After nearly half a century, Texas can finally protect mothers and unborn babies from the tragedy of abortion, which the Legislature and Governor Abbott have already taken giant preparatory steps to do.
Now the pro-life movement can expend even greater resources toward providing compassionate alternatives to abortion for women with unplanned pregnancies. Our goal continues to be to build a society where abortion is unthinkable, and women with unplanned pregnancies take full advantage of the vast resources available to them.
In 2021, in preparation for this moment, the Texas Legislature passed, and Gov. Greg Abbott signed into law, several substantial measures to protect both unborn babies from abortion and to support women with unplanned pregnancies.
First, the Legislature passed HB 1280, the Human Life Protection Act by Rep. Giovanni Capriglione (R-Southlake) and Sen. Angela Paxton (R-McKinney) (also known as the “trigger” law), to completely ban abortions of unborn babies beginning at conception, when the child comes into being. The law will go into effect 30 days after the Court’s judgment, which is expected in a few days or weeks.
The Legislature passed HB 1280, which has a medical emergency exception, by wide margins in both chambers. Performing an abortion is a first-degree felony, punishable by up to 99 years. The attorney general can bring a lawsuit that includes a fine of at least $100,000. And the law requires a mandatory loss of license for a doctor or nurse. There is no liability for women.
Also in 2021, the Legislature appropriated vast funds to assist low-income women, especially women with unplanned pregnancies.
- The Legislature appropriated $100 million for the current two-year budget toward the highly successful Alternatives to Abortion program. That program provides services for women facing unplanned pregnancies to assist them in carrying the baby to term, giving birth and keeping or placing the baby for adoption. Support is available for at least three years after birth from nearly 200 pregnancy centers, maternity homes, and adoption agencies across the state serving 150,000 clients each year, far more than the 55,000 abortions in Texas in 2020.
- Women’s care at these centers includes pregnancy confirmation, counseling, moral support and services to free women from sex trafficking, domestic violence, or substance abuse. The centers also provide maternity and baby clothes and diapers for client’s babies. Budgeting, parenting and pregnancy classes, job skills training, and referrals to other government agencies are also available. Hundreds more privately funded centers and church-based programs offer similar services across Texas.
- For uninsured pregnant women with incomes up to 200 percent of the federal poverty level, the state’s Medicaid program pays prenatal, childbirth and follow-up care for the mothers for six months and babies for 12 months. The Texas Medicaid program pays for more than half the births in Texas, costing nearly $1.2 billion per year.
- The Legislature continued funding various free services for low-income women, appropriating $352 million over two years toward breast and cervical cancer screening, family planning, pregnancy testing, pelvic exams, sexually transmitted infection services, screening for and treatment of cholesterol, diabetes, and high blood pressure. The HealthyTexasWomen.org website lists thousands of providers.
Also, as a result of the Dobbs opinion, Texas’ pre-Roe abortion ban, first enacted in 1854, could go back into effect. Roe v. Wade blocked enforcement of that ban, but the laws were never explicitly repealed by the Legislature. However, a non-binding 2004 opinion of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals held that those laws were repealed by implication when the Legislature passed certain abortion regulations, including the parental notice, abortion facility safety standards, and limits on public funding for abortions.
The law criminalized abortion with a 2-5 years penalty for anyone performing an abortion, and women were never prosecuted.