Anti-abortion groups in Texas are rallying behind Paxton and characterizing Cox’s lawsuit as an attempt to undermine and ultimately get rid of the state’s ban. Both Texas Alliance for Life and Texas Right to Life told POLITICO they are unconvinced that Cox qualifies for a medical exemption and said she should carry the pregnancy to term even if the baby does not survive.

“When a child is aborted, they’re robbed of any length of life they might have had, and the family is robbed of the chance to hold and grieve that child. That is not the compassionate option for that family or child,” Amy O’Donnell, the spokesperson for Texas Alliance for Life, said in an interview.


Paxton does not mention abortion in his recent ads against Garza, though he’s trumpeted his anti-abortion litigation in the past. (Paxton did not respond to a request for comment.) His anti-abortion actions have not gone unnoticed by those who support him. Joe Pojman, the executive director of Texas Alliance for Life, told me that Garza would be a “disaster on the life issue, and I don’t think she is committed to defending the laws of the state of Texas.” He also noted that, especially after Kansas, “we cannot allow our voters to be complacent. We can take nothing for granted.”

When Garza campaigns across Texas — she has visited cities such as Dallas, Austin, San Antonio, and Houston, border towns like Del Rio and Alamo, and more conservative areas including Waxahachie and Hunt County, according to a campaign list — she talks openly about abortion. She frames it as a matter of gender equity but also focuses on pregnant people whose health is at risk, a point that could appeal to conservative-leaning women who might oppose abortion in other cases. Paxton’s policies, she tells voters, not only limit reproductive freedom — they could kill you. (Garza was leading Paxton among likely women voters by five points, according to a University of Houston/Texas Southern University poll, though the Texas Politics Project poll found Paxton ahead by four.)


Texas Alliance for Life — one of the groups that pushed for S.B. 4 and the state’s near-total abortion ban — acknowledged the problem but pointed to language in the law that stipulates it’s only a crime if drugs are dispensed “with the intent to cause the death of an unborn child.”

“It’s unfortunate that some patients are not receiving the medications their doctors prescribed because pharmacists can’t navigate and interpret these laws,” said Amy O’Donnell, a spokesperson with Texas Alliance for Life. “Their overreaction in these scenarios may point to the need for the state board of pharmacy to offer further guidance and clarification, because it’s very clear in the law that medications for purposes other than abortion are allowed.”

Texas and 10 other states, however, specifically list methotrexate as an abortion-inducing drug, according to the American Pharmacists Association. And vague laws in other states — many of which were drafted long before many of the drugs in question were even developed — can have the same effect for pharmacists concerned about any medication that could be used for abortion.

By: Renuka Rayasam

Still its candidate endorsements often have more in common with groups that have broad socially conservative agendas. In a mailing attacking Geren for example, Texas Right to Life criticized his efforts to pass a bill that would boost reporting requirements on nonprofits and his fiscal responsibility rating from another nonprofit called Texans for Fiscal Responsibility run by Empower Texans, which shares many of the same donors.

James Graham and Empower Texans’ Michael Quinn Sullivan co-host a podcast about Texas politics.

“Some of the people in their endorsements really raised the eyebrows of people,” said Joe Pojman, who heads another anti-abortion group called Texas Alliance for Life. “I think it’s unfortunate that they have chosen to endorse on issues unrelated to life issues.”

By: Renuka Rayasam

Joe Pojman, executive director of another anti-abortion group called Texas Alliance for Life, believes that the “D&E” ban will not survive a court challenge. He said that a defeat similar to the one the state absorbed at the Supreme Court could set the anti-abortion movement back.

In addition to opening new arguments for abortion rights activists to challenge abortion laws, the state was required to pay millions of dollars in court fees for the plaintiffs.

“We can’t sustain another loss like we sustained” last year, Pojman said.

By: Renuka Rayasam

“We have made tremendous gains,” said Joe Pojman, executive director of the Texas Alliance for Life. He hopes that someday, perhaps under President Donald Trump, the Supreme Court will overturn the Roe v. Wade ruling upholding abortion rights. In the meantime, when he surveys abortion trends in Texas, he sees “huge progress.”

Abortion rights advocates ruefully agree they have lost ground.

“What makes Texas unique is that the clinic system was undercut so quickly,” said Elizabeth Nash, senior state issues manager at the Guttmacher Institute, a reproductive rights research group. “Texas has taken what might have happened in a decade or more in another state and collapsed it into a year.”