Within a few weeks, the Supreme Court will hand down a decision in the case called Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. The Court will decide whether the Constitution prevents states from protecting unborn babies from abortion before the developing child has reached the point of viability. The Supreme Court defines viability as the point at which the baby can continue to live after birth, even with medical assistance. This case may modify or even overturn the notorious 1973 Roe v. Wade decision.
That decision, terribly unjust in the view of the organize I lead — the Texas Alliance for Life — ties the hands of the state legislatures. While states may ban abortion after viability, the Supreme Court prohibits states from banning abortion before viability when the vast majority of abortions occur. In the wake of Roe, more than 62 million unborn children have lost their lives to abortion, a staggering number.
Regardless of the outcome of the Supreme Court’s decision, Texans — especially women of childbearing age and women with unplanned pregnancies — need to know about the vast resources available to protect unborn children and their mothers.
If the Supreme Court significantly modifies or even overturns Roe, several measures passed by the Texas Legislature and signed by Governor Greg Abbott will become particularly important.
First, the Human Life Protection Act, House Bill 1280, will protect unborn babies from abortion after viability and — to the extent allowed by the Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs — before viability, as early as conception. Some call this the “trigger” law because its effective date is triggered by the Supreme Court’s action.
The second measure is Senate Bill 1, the General Appropriations Act, which contains numerous provisions to provide substantial help to women — especially low-income women with unplanned pregnancies. Hundreds of thousands of women receive support through these services each year and will continue to do so after the Supreme Court acts in Dobbs.
The Legislature appropriated $100 million, a 25 percent increase, 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. The principal contractor, Texas Pregnancy Care Network, runs a website directing clients to nearly 200 pregnancy centers, maternity homes, and adoption agencies across the state. The program serves 125,000 clients each year, far more than the 55,000 in Texas in 2020.
Hundreds more privately funded centers and church-based programs offer similar services across Texas.
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 to clients. Budgeting, parenting and pregnancy classes, job skills training, and referrals to other government agencies are also available.
Medicaid Perinatal and Childbirth Care: 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 Child Health Insurance Program spends $135 million annually on perinatal care for unborn children.
Women’s Health Program: The Legislature continued funding for various free 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.
Critics of the state’s efforts may point to faulty and discredited data to assert that Texas has terrible maternal mortality rates. However, more rigorous research found that the Texas’ rates are far smaller than had been incorrectly claimed and are comparable to those of most other states. Certainly, concern remains, but we believe that problems such as maternal health, poverty, education and any number of others, as serious as they are, can be addressed without sacrificing the lives of thousands of innocent unborn children each year.
The Bottom Line: Texas’ track record of taking care of Texas women and families by providing vast resources for females facing unplanned pregnancies and their children before, during, and after birth — a record we can be proud of — will continue regardless of what the Supreme Court does.
Dr. Joe Pojman is the founder and executive director of Texas Alliance for Life, a non-partisan, non-sectarian, pro-life organization committed to protecting innocent human beings from conception until natural death.