By: Taylor GoldensteiN

“Every child is uniquely precious and should continue to be protected in law no matter how long or short the baby’s life may be,” Texas Right to Life said in a statement.

Deirdre Cooper, a policy analyst with another anti-abortion group, Texas Alliance for Life, said terminating a pregnancy because of fatal abnormalities amounts to “discrimination.”

“Once given a fatal diagnosis, parents are now on a unique journey of preparing for the death of a beloved child,” said Cooper, who chose to birth a child with the same condition as Cox’s. “But abortion robs that child of the chance at life, no matter how short.”

By: Taylor Goldenstein , Austin Bureau

Anti-abortion groups have defended the laws as written, saying they provide enough information to guide emergency decisions in the delivery room.

“If it’s a true health emergency that warrants a medical emergency exception, I believe any physician would be able to clearly ascertain what would fall under that exception,” Amy O’Donnell, spokeswoman for the Texas Alliance for Life, told Hearst Newspapers this spring .

By: Taylor Goldenstein

Amy O’Donnell, spokeswoman for the Texas Alliance for Life, said judicial bypass is no longer necessary. Texas law already allows doctors to perform abortions during medical emergencies when there is “insufficient time” to provide parental notice.

But in general, she said, “abortion isn’t legal in our state, so there’s no need to seek a judicial bypass for a procedure that’s not legal in Texas.”

She added: “When a minor is facing unplanned pregnancy, it’s our hope that any adult they reach out to will assist them in giving birth to their baby and point them to organizations or resources that will support them in either raising the child or towards placing the child in a loving home for adoption.”

By: Evan MacDonald , Staff writer

Joe Pojman, the executive director of pro-life advocacy group Texas Alliance for Life, said he and other members of his organization were “ecstatic” after hearing the news.

“Not sure I expected this would come down in my lifetime, but after 35 years in the movement, it has,” he said.

The Supreme Court decision means all 50 states are responsible for drafting their own abortion laws. It also allows dozens of eager states, including Texas, to begin banning the procedure outright. Texas last spring passed a so-called “trigger law,” which will prohibits abortions 30 days after the Supreme Court’s decision.

Kyleen Wright, the president of Texans for Life, said her organization will turn its focus to protecting the state law from any challenges. Wright said Texans for Life will also try to win more public support for the law.

That is likely to be an uphill climb: A University of Texas at Austin poll from last month found that 54 percent of Texans opposed automatically banning all abortions in the state if Roe v. Wade was overturned.

Texas had already taken significant steps to limit abortion access before Friday’s decision. Senate Bill 8, which went into effect last September, prohibits abortion as soon as a fetal heartbeat is detected and created a mechanism through which private citizens can sue abortion providers and others who aided or abetted the procedure.

Wright, who first joined the movement against abortion while living in Houston in 1975, said members of her organization were “pretty jubilant” Friday morning.

“Everyone is very clear that this is the beginning, not the end for us. We have a lot of work to do,” she said. “But everyone is certainly happy to pause and celebrate this big victory.”

Abortion opponents said they need to turn their focus to creating an environment where women do not feel an abortion is necessary under any circumstance. While abortions will be prohibited in Texas, opponents don’t want to see women traveling to other states where the procedure is legal.

Groups that support abortion access say that low-income and minority Texans are most likely to be harmed by a ban on the procedure. Seago said it will be important to take steps to increase support for women during pregnancy and provide medical care for at least one year after a child is born.

Medicaid and the state’s Alternatives to Abortion program do offer support to pregnant women, along with various pro-life nonprofits and church-based ministries.

Pojman believes Texas already has the infrastructure in place to help pregnant women; he said Alternatives to Abortion is designed to serve 150,000 women annually. Texas Health and Human Services statistics show 55,000 abortions were performed in the state in 2020, though that number only includes abortions that were performed legally.

Pojman also noted that SB8 increased Medicaid coverage for women after childbirth to six months, up from 60 days.

“I don’t think enough women in those circumstances even know that these agencies exist,” Pojman said. “Our goal for the foreseeable future is education.”

By: Dr. Joe Pojman

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 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.

By: Taylor Goldenstein

The Texas law, Senate Bill 8, allows doctors to perform abortions beyond the six-week mark only if there is “danger of death or a serious risk of substantial impairment of a major bodily function.”

Amy O’Donnell, spokeswoman for the Texas Alliance for Life, said her group is confident that the law is unequivocal, as is HB 1280, the trigger law that would ban all abortions in Texas within 30 days of a ruling overriding Roe v. Wade.

“If it’s a true health emergency that warrants a medical emergency exception, I believe any physician would be able to clearly ascertain what would fall under that exception,” O’Donnell said, adding that there is also an exemption for ectopic pregnancies, in which the fetus develops outside the uterus, where it cannot survive.