Today is the day that the Texas trigger ban on abortion goes into effect. The ban prohibits all abortions from the moment of fertilization with the only exception being if the life of the mother is at risk. The penalties are serious. Doctors who perform abortions face life in prison, fines of at least $100,000, and could lose their medical licenses.
The trigger ban was passed by the Texas Legislature last year in anticipation of the Supreme Court overturning Roe v Wade with its ruling in the Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health. When the Supreme Court’s ruling was handed down in June, Roe v Wade was overturned and every state became responsible for its own abortion laws. Unless and until Congress codifies Roe v Wade (as Joe Biden calls upon it to do), abortion remains state law, not federal law.
The trigger ban will co-exist with the fetal heartbeat law in Texas, known as SB 8. SB 8 was the country’s first effective six-week ban on abortion. Abortions are prohibited after a fetal heartbeat is detected, usually around six weeks into the pregnancy. The Texas law allows private citizens to sue doctors, and others who help a person obtain an abortion. The trigger law and SB 8 co-existing presents some confusion in a state that already has abortion bans.
With the trigger law taking effect, SB 8 now becomes a kind of backstop for some counties where prosecutors have vowed not to bring charges against abortion providers. That’s because even if a provider escapes criminal penalties, they would still be subject to potentially endless citizen-led lawsuits.
And since the pre-Roe bans also exist, prosecutors who oppose abortion access can basically pick which criminal statutes under which they want to indict a provider. The 1925 law carries a much lower punishment of two to five years in prison.
“Texas is one of the most complicated landscapes because there were already a lot of pre-Roe bans,” Mohapatra said.
Support for the new law and the heartbeat law falls along political party lines. Republicans cheered when the Supreme Court ruled in the Dobbs case after 50 years of Roe v Wade. Democrats vowed to take out their rage at the ballot box in the November midterm elections. In Texas, soon-to-be three time loser Democrat candidate Robert Francis “Beto” O’Rourke campaigns on demonizing Governor Abbott and Republicans for the pro-life laws. Granted, Texas has become more of a purple state than a solid red state in recent election cycles but no Democrat has won a statewide race since 1994. As I write this today, Real Clear Politics has Governor Abbott up 6.8 over O’Rourke and ranks Texas as ‘Leans GOP’.
“We have lost total control over our own bodies — even victims of rape or incest, no matter how young,” Rochelle Garza, the Democratic candidate for attorney general, declared in an advertisement that begins airing Thursday. “We need change in Texas.”
Democrats running for statewide office are marking the implementation of the trigger law on Thursday with a series of online attacks and media hits, blasting the state’s GOP leaders who made the ban possible.
Garza co-starred in her advertisement with Mike Collier, the Democrat challenging Replublican Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick. In the video, he accused Patrick and Paxton of leading a “war on our personal freedoms in Texas.”
Democrat Beto O’Rourke, who is challenging Gov. Greg Abbott, will host a press conference at 10 a.m. Thursday in Houston, where he’ll join women and physicians to denounce the governor’s “dangerous attacks on reproductive freedom.”
“The only way to overcome the most extreme abortion ban in America is to defeat the man who signed it, win political power and fight to restore a woman’s freedom to make her own decisions about her own body, health care and future,” O’Rourke said in a statement.
We’ll see how it works out for Texas Democrats in November. Some New York candidates have been successful with using abortion as a rallying call to get Democrats to get out and vote but New York is a deep blue state. Will enough Texas Democrats come out and vote against Republicans because of abortion laws over everyday issues like Bidenflation, high food prices, gas and energy prices, the Biden border crisis, and now the deeply unfair (and illegal) student loan bail-out in November? Color me skeptical about that.