The executive director of the Texas Alliance for Life, Joe Pojman, said Republicans’ success in November should embolden abortion opponents heading into the legislative session that began Tuesday.
“The blue wave, funded by millions of dollars, came into Texas, crashed on the rocks and went nowhere,” Pojman said. “I think Republicans have every right to feel emboldened to continue to advance a reasonable but a conservative agenda.”
He added, “The seas are much flatter and less turbulent now for leadership in the House and Senate than two years ago.”
Courtney Chambers, Texas advocacy director for Whole Woman’s Health Alliance, said the pandemic makes access to abortion especially important this session.
“Lawmakers should really be focusing on ensuring expanded access to health care, making sure people have everything they need and not spending time on restricting access and restricting abortion care,” Chambers said. “Now is not the time, during a pandemic, to focus on having less access to health care.”
Justice Amy Coney Barrett, the third high court pick of Trump’s presidency, was confirmed on Oct. 26, the week before Election Day.
Democrats opposed the timing of the nomination, citing 2016, when the Republican-led Senate shut out President Barack Obama’s nominee, Merrick Garland, almost eight months before the elections. The Senate confirmed Barrett on a 52-48 vote, sliding the Supreme Court to the right and giving abortion opponents hope that the court will chip away at abortion rights.
Pojman said one of Alliance for Life’s priorities is passage of the Human Life Protection Act, which would prohibit abortion beginning at fertilization if the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade.
He also said his group is closely watching Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, a case that could allow the high court to review Mississippi’s 15-week abortion ban, which failed to go into effect in 2018 when a federal appeals court ruled it unconstitutional.
If the Supreme Court takes the case, Pojman said, Texas needs to have a new law ready to go into effect when the court rules.
“They may allow states to ban abortions at 15 weeks, they may change the precedent in other ways; we have no way to know,” Pojman said. “We have realized that we have to be very patient. Our hopes have been dashed many, many times in the past, but there’s a possibility.”