Rally speakers included Sarah Zarr, Students for Life of America/Students for Life Action; Senator Bryan Hughes, Heartbeat Bill Champion; Jason Jones, Movie To Movement; Rebecca Parma, Texas Right to Life; Allan Parker, Justice Foundation; Jason Vaughn, Young Republicans; Rachel Schroder, Students for Life of America; Heather Gardner, Central Texas Coalition; Joe Pojman, Texas Alliance for Life; Abby Johnson, And Then There Were None; and Mary Elizabeth Castle, Texas Values.
A statement from Texas Alliance for Life last night…
Today the Texas Senate gave final approval to the Human Life Protection Act, HB 1280 — one of Texas Alliance for Life’s top priorities — on an 19 to 12 vote. The House passed HB 1280 on an 81 to 61 vote on May 6. The bill now goes to Governor Greg Abbott who is expected to sign it into law.
The Human Life Protection Act is a complete ban on abortion, beginning at conception (fertilization), that goes into effect when and to the extent the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey. Texas joins 10 states who have passed similar measures.
Sen. Angela Paxton (R-McKinney) is the Senate sponsor of HB 1280, and Rep. Giovanni Capriglione (R-Southlake) is the House author. Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick made the Human Life Protection Act one of his priority bills, assigning the low number SB 9 to the Senate bill, which was authored by Sen. Paxton.
HB 1280 is also supported by the State Republican Executive Committee and several other major pro-life organizations, including the Texas Catholic Conference of Bishops, Texans for Life Coalition, West Texans for Life, and others.
The passage of the Human Life Protection Act is especially significant in light of the recent announcement that the United States Supreme Court will consider the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization case in its next term. That case involves “whether all pre-viability prohibitions on elective abortions are unconstitutional.” Viability occurs as early as 22-23 weeks in pregnancy, meaning the State of Texas is currently prohibited from protecting tens of thousands of unborn babies from abortion every year who have substantial prenatal development. A decision in that case is expected in June 2022.
“We are extremely pleased at the passage of HB 1280. We commend Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and Speaker Dade Phelan and thank those Senate and House members who supported this landmark bill,” said Dr. Joe Pojman, Texas Alliance for Life’s executive director. “To whatever extent the Supreme Court allows states to protect unborn babies from abortion — whether at 15 weeks, six weeks, or at conception — the Human Life Protection Act will go into effect to the same extent.”
The Supreme Court has agreed to hear a Mississippi abortion case that could spell the end of Roe v. Wade. Meanwhile, abortion restrictions are being signed into laws at an unprecedented rate. We look at the battle over abortion in 2021.
Mary Ziegler, legal historian and professor of law at the Florida State University College of Law. Author of “Abortion in America: A Legal History, Roe v. Wade to the Present” and “After Roe: The Lost History of the Abortion Debate.” (@maryrziegler)
Joan Biskupic, CNN legal analyst and Supreme Court biographer. Author of
many books, including “The Chief: The Life and Turbulent Times of Chief Justice John Roberts.” (@JoanBiskupic)
Elizabeth Nash, principal policy associate for state issues at the Guttmacher Institute. (@ElizNash)
Joe Pojman, executive director of the Texas Alliance for Life. (@joepojman)
Texas’ push to restrict abortion comes as abortion rights advocates and opponents set their sights on the Supreme Court after news landed last week that it had agreed to take up a Mississippi law that bans nearly all abortions after the 15th week of pregnancy.
Such tests of Roe were expected, particularly after then-President Donald Trump appointed three conservative justices to the Supreme Court.
The court’s decision to consider Mississippi’s law and Texas’ push to pass abortion restrictions in the interim have abortion rights advocates reminding Texans that abortion is still legal as they vow to fight Texas’ laws in court.
Texas Alliance for Life and other abortion opponents welcome the recent developments. That includes the Senate’s latest action on the trigger bill, known by abortion opponents as the “Human Life Protection Act,” which is a “principal goal” for Texas Alliance for Life, according to the organization’s executive director, Joe Pojman.
“The passage of the Human Life Protection Act is especially significant in light of the recent announcement of the United States Supreme Court to consider the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization case,” Pojman said. “To whatever extent the Supreme Court allows states to protect unborn babies from abortion — whether at 15 weeks, six weeks, or at conception — the Human Life Protection Act will go into effect to the same extent.”
The Lilith Fund was founded in 2001, when Democratic legislators still held the Texas House.
Things were different then, said Joe Pojman, the executive director of another antiabortion group, Texas Alliance for Life. In the early 2000s, antiabortion groups in Texas weren’t nearly as effective as they are today. Only one antiabortion law passed in the state in 2001, compared to 10 in 2017 and five in 2019.
Pojman has been campaigning against abortion since 1987. That year, he started pushing for a law that required minors to notify their parents before they could have an abortion.
“They didn’t need permission, just notification,” he said. “It was a very modest law.”
Still, he said, it took 12 years to pass.
Since then, there have been ups and downs for the antiabortion movement in Texas, he said. He thought it had reached a turning point in 2013, when the legislature passed a law requiring all abortion providers to have hospital admitting privileges. When the law took effect, along with other restrictions on abortion clinics, approximately half of all abortion clinics in Texas were forced to close. The law made it all the way to the Supreme Court before it was struck down in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt.
Now, Pojman tries not to be overly optimistic. Texas Alliance for Life is “neutral” on the Heartbeat Act, he said, because he feels confident it won’t make it through the courts.
Other antiabortion lobbyists, like Seago, are not so cautious.
The mood is certainly far more hopeful this session, Pojman said as he looked around the Capitol Grill, the cafeteria inside the Texas Capitol. Conservative lawmakers and lobbyists had abandoned their masks, strategizing together over lunch.
After Republicans in Texas got clobbered in the 2018 elections, when former U.S. congressman Beto O’Rourke (D-Tex.) coaxed new Democratic voters to the polls, “there was fear in the air,” Pojman said. When six other states passed six- or eight-week abortion bans in 2019, Republican legislators in Texas hung back, worried they might lose more seats if they came down hard on abortion.
All that changed after the 2020 election, Pojman said, when Democrats across the country fixated on turning Texas blue. Democratic money poured into the state — but Republicans only lost one seat, held by the lone Republican who supported abortion rights.
“That blue wave came into Texas, crashed on the rocks and went nowhere,” Pojman said.
This year, there is a mounting feeling that Texas should go big on antiabortion legislation, he said, to “show the Supreme Court that, down here in Texas, we’re pro-life.”
“The fear is gone,” he said — and legislators are willing to try anything.
“It’s making a strong statement that we think that the unborn child, whose heart is beating, and even before, should be protected by the state of Texas,” said Joe Pojman, Ph.D., executive director of Texas Alliance for Life.