After the Supreme Court of the United States reversed Roe v. Wade in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, an array of abortion bans and regulations began to take effect nationwide. Since abortion policymaking has been returned to democratic processes, state legislatures can finally craft Pro-Life laws to match their particular state’s culture and commitment to protecting Life. In Texas, the birthplace of Roe, elective abortion is now banned from fertilization, guaranteeing all preborn children the legal protection they have deserved but lacked for the last 50 years. Beyond this monumental Pro-Life victory are both enticing opportunities and perplexing challenges that signal the Pro-Life movement still has difficult work ahead of us even in a state like Texas.
The court’s ruling in Dobbs presented the advent of a new era in Texas. Much like other states, Texas enacted a full ban on elective abortions last year that would take effect once the so-called “constitutional right to abortion” was dismantled by the Supreme Court. These stricter penalties took effect August 25, but even before that, elective abortions have been banned in Texas thanks to the very law that Roe toppled in 1973. The Texas Legislature never repealed this 1925 law, which prohibits elective abortions. With Dobbs, the 1925 law is once again enforceable. Likewise, the exception in our criminal homicide law that allows for elective abortions is no longer effective. In total, these Texas laws ensure that legal elective abortion is a relic in our state.
The noxious abortion industry appears to be shuttering its clinics in Texas. According to Texas Right to Life’s research, no established abortion facility is committing abortions within our borders. Whole Woman’s Health, a statewide abortion giant, has already announced the closure of four Texas clinics and their plan to build one in New Mexico, from where it plans to target Texas mothers. No doubt, others will soon follow.
For all of the media hysteria surrounding Pro-Life laws, Texas’ life-saving policies are rooted in common sense. Treatment for ectopic pregnancies—wherein the embryo implants outside of the uterus—is not considered an elective abortion in law. Nor is contraception or any miscarriage treatment. Moreover, Texas has a clear exception to our bans on abortion for physical medical emergencies. Whenever a pregnant mother’s life is at risk or she faces a serious threat to a major bodily function, life-saving intervention is not illegal. Furthermore, no punishment for an illegal abortion is directed toward pregnant mothers, who have long been additional victims of the abortion industry. Contrary to the misleading and poorly researched media narratives, any confusion about our laws is the result of misinformation from pro-abortion forces and passivity from our mainstream medical associations.
Enforcing our life-saving laws, though critical, is just a first step as the Pro-Life movement begins to navigate a post-Roe Texas. The Alternatives to Abortion (A2A) program, which Texas funds at $50 million per year, is a nationwide model for how state governments can assist women and their families facing an unexpected pregnancy in challenging circumstances. Through A2A, Texans provide social services to mothers and fathers during pregnancy and up to three years after birth by reimbursing the fantastic and selfless work of pregnancy resource centers, maternity homes, and adoption agencies. The program also offers post-miscarriage counseling services to grieving mothers and free assistance to families transitioning after adoption.
This program has been a beacon of light in Texas, not solely because it offers women tangible resources to alleviate circumstances that might have motivated them to abort, but also because it is a pristine example of good and proper governance. When mothers and children struggle without the necessary personal or social resources, Pro-Lifers must be the first to rush to their aid and help them overcome the barriers they immediately face. After Roe, we must build Pro-Life states, not just ones that are abortion-free. We can do this by emulating and expanding the success of Texas’ Alternatives to Abortion program.
Other perplexing challenges await us in this new chapter of standing for Life. The City of Austin crystallized its intention in July not to enforce our state Pro-Life laws. Other cities and district attorneys have followed suit. Ensuring our Pro-Life laws, especially our bans on elective abortion, are enforced is a foremost priority moving forward. Equipping citizens to file lawsuits against those who violate our laws is just one way we can combat the lawless elected officials who plan to abandon their responsibility to uphold state legislation.
Similarly, some segments of the abortion industry have promised not to retreat from states like Texas. They plan to operate below the eyes of the law by shipping abortion pills directly to pregnant mothers, who may self-induce abortions without anyone ever knowing they were pregnant. Illegal websites have been established to this effect. Abortion pills are flying into Texas from pharmacies in India. How to precisely solve this problem—especially at the state level, without the power or resources of the federal government—remains a difficult public policy question. Though Texas might be free of legal abortion, it is not yet abortion free. We must adopt innovative and novel approaches the Pro-Life movement has never considered to save these lives and protect Texans from the predatory abortion industry targeting women in their dorm rooms, homes, and communities.
Dobbs, whatever the outcome, was never going to be the final chapter of the Pro-Life movement. In many respects, our work will only intensify. Enforcing our laws and providing tangible assistance for pregnant mothers and families has never been more essential. And identifying other threats to human life outside of abortion cannot be overlooked. Above all, we must mold a culture and society that values human life for what it is—something that is intrinsically valuable and worth preserving and protecting as a fundamental good. No legislative victory can endure without a corresponding cultural victory. While our Texas law may soon protect preborn children as much as possible, it is critical that our work in our communities, on college campuses, and in the legislative hallways forge ahead.