And on Jan. 22 — 48 years after the landmark Roe v. Wade decision — two “trigger” bills were filed that would ban abortion in Texas if the Supreme Court overturned the case or otherwise altered abortion laws. Another bill could ban abortion after 12 weeks.
“Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are at the very center of what it means to be an American,” state Sen. Angela Paxton, R-McKinney, one of the bill authors, said in a statement. “I believe there always has been and always will be energy from Texans to promote and protect life.”
Advocates of abortion rights fear the tone already set augurs a fierce fight about the procedure during a time when the pandemic has limited the public’s ability to voice concerns within the Capitol.
Joe Pojman, who leads another anti-abortion group called Texas Alliance for Life, is more reticent to pass laws that would be blocked by the courts and not enforced. Legal losses can also empower advocates of abortion access and can be costly. When the Supreme Court ruled against Texas’ attempt to impose additional regulations on abortion providers in 2016, the state was ordered to pay more than $2 million.
Pojman thinks the odds that anti-abortion bills gain traction are “substantially higher” this year than in the 2019 legislative session, which focused on bread-and-butter issues like school finance and property taxes — and came just months after Democrats picked up a dozen House seats in the Nov. 2018 elections.