When proponents of the state’s abortion bans talk about how Texas law already has narrow exceptions for patients at risk, they’re usually referring to the section of HB 1280 that notes the exceptions to the law. In a statement emailed to Texas Monthly on Sunday, Amy O’Donnell, communications director for the anti-abortion group Texas Alliance for Life, expressed her disagreement with the ruling. “While Texas law is clear, we believe that some doctors are not apprised of the actual language of the law, resulting in poor care for their patients,” she wrote. Professional medical organizations such as the Texas Medical Association and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), as well as the Texas Medical Board, should provide the guidance doctors rely on, she argued, rather than the courts. “Judicial activism from the bench using non-medically defined terms opens the door for greater confusion,” O’Donnell wrote.
Amy O’Donnell, a spokesperson for Texas Alliance for Life, another advocacy group that opposes abortion rights, pointed to the state’s existing health and safety code, in which ectopic pregnancies, pregnancies in which the fertilized egg implants outside the uterus, and miscarriages are not considered abortions. In other scenarios in which a pregnant patient’s life or health are at risk, O’Donnell and other like-minded activists say doctors can perform what they call a “separation” of an unborn child from its mother—terminology echoed in a fact sheet produced by the Charlotte Lozier Institute, a right-to-life organization based in Washington, D.C., that advocates for the idea that human life begins at conception. Like other anti-abortion advocates, O’Donnell argues that Roe’s reversal does not cause undue risk to pregnant women because the health conditions that would require abortion as a means of saving their lives or their long-term health are “very rare in modern science.” When those conditions do arise, she said, medical exceptions in the law adequately address those cases. “When a pregnant mother faces a life-threatening situation, an induced abortion that aims to kill the child is not the answer,” she said. “There are many ways to deal with this situation that do not seek to take the life of the child.”
It certainly felt that way on Saturday, when hundreds of “right to life” proponents gathered outside the Capitol for a protest marking the forty-eighth anniversary of Roe v. Wade. Some joined a line of honking vehicles proceeding down Congress Avenue and held signs through open sunroofs, while others congregated on the sidewalk and chanted slogans including “Hey-hey, ho-ho, Roe v. Wade has got to go.” In the crowd, a pair of middle-school girls jointly yelled “Abortion is murder!” and waved signs at passing drivers, jumping around as if they were at a Justin Bieber concert.
Some ardent anti-abortion advocates, such as Joe Pojman, who helped organize the rally and leads the nonprofit Texas Alliance for Life, are not convinced that the U.S. Supreme Court has shifted enough ideologically to overturn Roe, but they’d still be happy if the high court unravels the precedent a little. “We don’t think it’s likely the Supreme Court will overturn Roe v. Wade in total anytime soon,” said Pojman. “We’re not sure that the court is ready.” He wants state lawmakers to prepare for the moment it is.