By: Selena Simmons-Duffin

In commenting on Casiano’s story, Texas Alliance for Life spokesperson Amy O’Donnell told NPR, “I do believe the Texas laws are working as designed.”

O’Donnell was also present at the hearing in Austin, telling NPR she was there “just to keep an eye on it and watch how it unfolds.” She said she believes that the laws are clear as is. “Doctors can exercise reasonable medical judgment; they can provide the standard of care,” she said.

By: Selena Simmons-Duffin

The sponsor of the bill in the Texas Senate was none other than S.B. 8 author Sen. Bryan Hughes. Hughes has not responded to any of NPR’s interview requests on multiple stories for months, but he did give an interview to National Review in June. “Texas law is already clear,” he said, a talking point made frequently by supporters of the bans, including the Texas Alliance for Life. “But because some doctors and hospitals were not following the law, we wanted to remove any doubt and remove any excuse for not giving the care that the moms need in these cases.”

Dr. John Thoppil, an Austin OB-GYN and past president of the Texas Association of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, calls the assertion that the law was already clear and that doctors are to blame for the uncertainty false. “If you put the threat of a felony case and losing your license in a very poorly written original law, it is irresponsible to shift that blame back to the physicians who are trying to take care of patients,” he says.

By: Selena Simmons-Duffin

‘Texas laws are working as designed’
Amy O’Donnell, director of communications for the Texas Alliance for Life, calls Casiano’s situation “heartbreaking,” but says she supports the abortion bans and opposes creating exceptions for fetal anomalies.

“I do believe the Texas laws are working as designed,” she says. “I also believe that we have a responsibility to educate Texas women and families on the resources that we have available to them, both for their pregnancy, for childbirth and beyond, as well as in situations where they face an infant loss.”

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She says several private and religious organizations provide free caskets and other services, but said public funds for infant funerals is not currently part of the “Alternatives to Abortion” state program. “That’s not to say that it shouldn’t be, and if the legislature decided to move that direction, we would support that,” O’Donnell says.

Duane says Texas has promised those funds before, as part of its defense of the fetal burial law. In that lawsuit, Duane argued that funerals can be expensive. “The state kept promising that they were going to provide all of these resources and grants and all this money for people who needed to have funerals,” Duane says. “[Texas] never did any of that. It was all just political theater.”

Halo’s funeral on Good Friday
Because she went into labor early, Casiano has less time than she expected to sort out how to pay for Halo’s funeral. She was quoted $4,000 by one funeral home. The family moved less than a year ago and used up all their savings on the move. Her family cooked menudo, a spicy Mexican soup, and raised $645 selling it by the bowl.

Cogdell, who runs the Christian grief group that’s been helping Casiano, says she was able to get several services donated, including picking up the baby’s body. In addition to the $480 she raised for Halo’s funeral, Cogdell said she used her organization’s general family assistance funds to pay for the rest of the funeral, which cost $1,400 in all.

By: Selena Simmons-Duffin

SIMMONS-DUFFIN: I also spoke to Amy O’Donnell. She’s with the Texas Alliance for Life, and she told me she does not support adding more exceptions to Texas’ abortion laws.

AMY O’DONNELL: I do believe the Texas laws are working as designed. I also believe that we have a responsibility to educate Texas women and families on the resources that we have available to them.

SIMMONS-DUFFIN: She says there are private organizations that can help with funerals, and her group would support public funds being used for that, too. Samantha and her family are getting some extra support. Since NPR published her story yesterday, many people were moved to donate to her funeral fundraising page, and they’ve now donated $30,000 and counting.