By: Emily Caldwell

On Dec. 1, the court is set to hear oral arguments on a Mississippi ban on almost all abortions after the 15th week of pregnancy. Arguments in the Mississippi case will likely focus more on fetal viability, as the law poses more of a direct challenge to preestablished standards and is enforced by state officials.

Rulings from the court in both cases — on Texas’ SB 8 and the Mississippi law — are highly anticipated, now that the court has a six-justice conservative supermajority and the numbers to overturn Roe vs. Wade, the 1973 landmark stemming from a Dallas woman’s challenge to a Texas abortion ban.

In June, Gov. Greg Abbott signed a bill, House Bill 1280, into law that would prohibit abortions in Texas if Roe vs. Wade is overturned. Pojman said Texas Alliance for Life and other groups helped craft the law with the Mississippi case in mind.

“That is a law that completely protects unborn babies from abortion, up to the moment of conception, fertilization,” Pojman said. “And it goes into effect when, to the extent, the Supreme Court overturns the terrible Roe vs. Wade precedent.”

Duble said from a political advocacy perspective, Avow is already prepping for the 2022 midterm and statewide elections.

“What we’re doing is gearing up for 2022, where we fully intend to hold the lawmakers who have allowed this trend of anti-abortion restrictions and SB 8 to go into effect,” Duble said. “We plan to hold them accountable.”

By: BeLynn Hollers

Pregnancy resource centers are considered alternative programs to abortion in Texas. Many receive funds from the state. In a interview with The Dallas Morning News last week, Joe Pojman, executive director of Texas Alliance for Life, noted that the Legislature this year increased the state budget for alternative to abortion programs by 25%, to $100 million.

“The goal of that program is to serve 150,000 women every year,” he said. “And the services that they provide to women with unplanned pregnancies continue for three years after the birth of the child.”

Those services include counseling, moral support, maternity clothes, baby clothes and diapers. But Pojman said they also include helping women fight substance abuse, getting out of abusive or sex trafficking situations, and job training.

The Legislature also passed the so-called Human Life Protection Act, a complete ban on abortion, beginning at conception, that would go into effect if the Supreme Court modifies or overturns previous rulings allowing abortion. Gov. Greg Abbott signed that so-called “trigger bill” in June, allowing Texas to join 11 other states with similar laws.

By: Todd J. Gillman

Even the most ardent anti-abortion activists were dubious as the bill worked through the Legislature.

“We had concerns that SB 8 would not survive a federal court challenge even back during the spring,” said Joe Pojman, executive director of Texas Alliance for Life, who said he privately urged key Texas lawmakers to think twice.

Roe is a “terrible precedent” that “ties the hands of the Legislature from protecting unborn babies before the point of viability,” Pojman said, but it is, unequivocally, the law of the land unless the Supreme Court says otherwise.
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Will Roe fall?
Until the Trump era, there was no question the court would reject a 15-week ban like Mississippi’s.

But with a 6-3 conservative majority now a year old, the judicial landscape has never been more favorable for those attacking Roe.

It takes four of nine justices to grant a hearing. It’s unclear if there’s a fifth willing to overturn Roe.

“I’ve been involved in the pro-life movement for 34 years and my hopes have been dashed several times,” said Pojman. “But this time I truly am hopeful that Roe could be substantially modified or overturned.”

Abortion rights advocates are pinning their hopes on Chief Justice John Roberts.

Appointed by Republican George W. Bush, Roberts has disappointed conservatives by regularly choosing precedent over ideology when those come into conflict.

On Sept. 1, when the five other conservatives allowed SB 8 to take effect, Roberts dissented.

The law is so “unprecedented” that it would be wiser to freeze enforcement “so that the courts may consider whether a state can avoid responsibility for its laws in such a manner,” he wrote.

Two of the three joined the chief justice’s dissent.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor, writing separately, chastised Texas lawmakers for showing such disregard for precedent and judicial review.

“To circumvent it, the Legislature took the extraordinary step of enlisting private citizens to do what the State could not,” she wrote. “… In effect, the Texas Legislature has deputized the State’s citizens as bounty hunters, offering them cash prizes for civilly prosecuting their neighbors’ medical procedures.”

Texas’ argument is that there’s no one for anyone to sue to block the law, and the federal government can’t claim standing just because it believes private parties would suffer.

The Justice Department’s response: “Having chosen an unprecedented scheme in a deliberate effort to thwart ordinary judicial review, Texas should not be heard to complain when the federal courts exercise remedial authorities that are usually unnecessary.”

A ruling in the Texas case could come quickly, maybe even within hours.

The high court could overturn SB 8 outright, or kick it back to lower courts with guidance on how to sort it out.

As for Dobbs, like most big cases the ruling will probably come in late June at the end of the court’s term.

When the dust settles, Texas and other red states could be free to ban virtually all abortions, because if a majority of justices are inclined to overturn Roe, they might very well go all the way, advocates and legal experts say.

“Any point before birth, other than fertilization, is arbitrary,” Pojman said.

Texas is one of a dozen states, mostly in the South, with laws on the books to ban abortion entirely if and when Roe falls: House Bill 1280, which makes no exception for rape or incest. Doctors would face life in prison or $100,000 fines for violating the ban.

Abbott signed it in June, though public support for such a complete ban is low.

Only 13% of Texans polled early this year by the Texas Politics Project at the University of Texas said they want abortion outlawed. Only 21% of Republicans said abortion should never be permitted.

But, said James Henson, director of the UT project, “A draconian abortion law has a lot of value in a Republican primary, however much ambivalence there may be in a general election.”

By: Morgan O'Hanlon and Todd J. Gillman

But, like other groups trying to restrict access to abortion, Texas Alliance for Life was “deeply disappointed” by the ruling.

“Every day since September 1 that the law has been in effect has been a tremendous victory for unborn children who would otherwise have lost their lives to abortion. We are hopeful that this is not the last word and that the Fifth Circuit will reverse Judge Pitman’s order,” said the group’s executive director Joe Pojman.

By: By BeLynn Hollers

Texas Alliance for Life said it will not be participating in lawsuits against those who seek abortions in violation of SB 8.

Dr. Joe Pojman, founder and executive director, said that his organization has “not been involved in that and we have no plans to do that,” but will instead focus on helping women.

Pojman said that the Texas Legislature and the governor have also taken steps to help pregnant women and their children, noting that the state budget includes $100 million for the next two years for alternative pregnancy programs.

“We have vast resources in Texas to help women who have unplanned pregnancies,” he said.

By: Alex Briseno

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.”