By: Rebekah Alvey

For abortion opponents, the implementation of the trigger ban and the overall success of other abortion bans in Texas signal a win.

“We are very happy that the Legislature has passed this law to protect unborn children from the tragedy of abortion, along with passing some other measures to help pregnant women with unplanned pregnancies,” said Joe Pojman, founder and executive director of Texas Alliance for Life, ahead of the judgment’s release.
He added that since the pre-Roe ban went into effect, all 23 Texas abortion clinics his organization tracked had ceased performing procedures. Meanwhile, he said 350 pregnancy centers, adoption agencies and maternity homes have continued operating throughout the state.

“In our view the Human Life Protection Act is the last stake in the heart of the abortion industry in Texas,” Pojman said.

By: Samiha Shafy and Amrai Coen

If Joe Pojman had his way, Christina Bourne would soon no longer be a doctor but a convicted felon. He receives in his office in Austin, Texas, 900 kilometers from the clinic in Wichita. Pojman is 63 years old, wearing a suit and tie, a man with gray hair and a full beard who chooses his words carefully and speaks eloquently. His demeanor is so gentle that at first you hardly notice how radical his statements are. He used to work as an engineer for NASA. Until he felt called by God to devote his life to something else. Pojman founded the Texas Alliance for Life organization 34 years ago.

Joe Pojman has the same goal as Mark Gietzen, the man praying outside the Kansas clinic, but Pojman’s strategy is more subtle — and far more efficient. On the table in front of him is a law that he drafted. The governor of Texas has already signed it. If the Supreme Court overturns Roe vs. Wade, that law will go into effect 30 days later in Texas. It bears the number 1280 and the name “Human Life Protection Act”. The text reads: “A person who violates the ABORTION BAN commits a crime.” A doctor like Christina Bourne would then be charged with manslaughter in Texas after an abortion and sentenced to life imprisonment. She would have to pay a fine “of not less than $100,000 for each violation.”

Aren’t there any exceptions? “Yes,” says Joe Pojman. “When the mother’s survival is threatened by the pregnancy.” What about rape or incest? Or if the child is not viable? “No.”

In Texas, people already live in a world where Roe vs. Wade is all but abolished. Last September, when abortion was legalized in neighboring Mexico, the so-called heartbeat law went into effect in Texas. It bans abortions from the time a fetus’s heartbeat can be detected – around the sixth week of pregnancy. Many women don’t even realize they’re pregnant that early.

Joe Pojman doesn’t take the heartbeat law far enough. “Life begins at conception,” he says. Unlike the chief physician Christina Bourne, he never talks about the “fetus”, he says “the unborn child”. The choice of term shows that there are complex questions behind the abortion debate: When does life begin? At what point does a fetus become a person?

Pojman engages in a brief thought experiment: Suppose he’s in a burning hospital and can save five embryos in Petri dishes on the way out – or a newborn baby. What would he choose?

Joe Pojman says he can’t answer that question. “For me, human life is always equally valuable – whether it’s an unborn child, a newborn, a teenager or an adult.” He’s heard about women leaving Texas to have abortions elsewhere. “It breaks my heart,” he says. “My goal is that no woman sets out.”

But women in Texas are not yet prohibited by law from seeking help outside of the state. For example in Mexico.

By: Kevin Daley

Texas’s experience suggests that overturning Roe v. Wade will not prove to be a seismic political event, at least as far as election outcomes are concerned. The muted reaction to the Texas Heartbeat Act, the beginning of the end of abortion in Texas, only emboldened pro-life elements across the state.

“The sun rose as usual. Life went on. And there was not a tsunami of opposition to that law,” said Joe Pojman, Ph.D., an aerospace engineer who now leads the Texas Alliance for Life.

Pojman told the Washington Free Beacon that his group viewed the Heartbeat Act’s enactment as a “dress rehearsal” for the possibility that Roe would be overturned, which came to pass in June. The ensuing weeks gave them a chance to fine-tune talking points and assess reaction from coalition partners.
The following months were all the more encouraging, Pojman told the Free Beacon. The alliance endorsed dozens of candidates in Republican primaries across the state, he said, and he did not detect any reticence or hesitancy from Republican lawmakers, an assessment shared by other Texas Republicans the Free Beacon interviewed.

“People running for office all up and down the ballot cannot be pro-life enough in the Republican primary,”

Pojman told the Free Beacon. “Our PAC interviewed dozens of candidates for Congress, the state house, and statewide elected office. It’s amazing. Virtually everyone is more pro-life than Mother Teresa.”

By: Katie Kindelan

Since 2003, Texas has included fetal personhood language in its penal code, which recognizes an unborn child as being an individual “at every stage of gestation.”

Amy O’Donnell, director of communications for Texas Alliance for Life — an organization that supports restrictions to abortion access and supported the law that added fetal personhood language to Texas’s penal code — said that under the code, if a pregnant woman is in a car accident and their unborn child is killed, the death could be prosecutable.

In Bottone’s case of contesting an HOV ticket due to a pregnancy, O’Donnell said that while she recognizes Bottone’s unborn baby as a person, she does not necessarily see it as a second passenger because of the “intent and purpose” of the HOV law in the state’s transportation code.

“Each code covers different areas of the law,” said O’Donnell. “Is it still an unborn baby in both situations, absolutely yes. We recognize that. But the purpose of an HOV lane is to carpool, vanpool or ride-share so does that unborn child currently fit within the realm of the law, not at this point in time in Texas.”

O’Donnell said this case in particular opens the door to what she described as a “slippery slope.”

“If we go down this road, if a passenger in an HOV lane that’s riding in its mother’s womb counts as a separate passenger, what does that mean for other passenger areas such as on plane,” said O’Donnell. “If that pregnant woman gets on a plane and we want to recognize that unborn baby in the womb as a second passenger, does she then have to buy a ticket?”

According to O’Donnell, the purpose of giving personhood to unborn babies in state laws is to “protect unborn babies from injury or homicide.”

“Life begins at conception and a body within a pregnant woman’s body is not that woman’s body,” she said. “It’s a unique being with separate DNA, unique fingerprints and, as such, it is very much a person beginning at conception and worthy of protection.”

Texas is one of around one dozen states in the U.S. that includes fetal personhood language in legislation restricting or banning abortion, according to Dana Sussman, deputy executive director of National Advocates for Pregnant Women (NAPW), a nonprofit organization that supports abortion rights.


Two of Texas’ most well-known anti-abortion groups — Texas Alliance for Life and Texas Right to Life — also say the state’s laws and more recent definition of abortion should not affect or inhibit IVF treatment, even if they include the term embryo.

“Abortion is, according to Texas law, causing the death of the child, who is a child of a woman known to be pregnant,” John Seago, president of Texas Right to Life, said pointing to a statute the Legislature amended a few years ago outlining what counts as an abortion.

“There’s also no such thing as an abortion outside of a woman’s womb, so when you look at what’s happening in the laboratory with assisted reproductive technology, that is not destruction of an embryo,” he added.

This language likely leaves IVF treatment intact, legal scholars told the Tribune. A district attorney could decide to try to test the issue by bringing a case against a fertility doctor, said Josh Blackman, a constitutional law professor at South Texas College of Law Houston. But he added that challenging IVF doesn’t appear to be an area “ripe” for action in the anti-abortion movement.

Seago said Texas Right to Life has concerns about the “destruction” of “excessive” embryos, particularly in medical research, but the issue is not one of its priorities for Texas’ 2023 legislative session. Instead, its priorities include enforcing existing laws against abortion and providing more support for pregnant women.

Amy O’Donnell, a spokesperson for the Texas Alliance for Life, said the group had not finalized its legislative priorities yet, but said the group supported a law passed in 2017 requiring the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services to post information on its website about embryo donations to other people to promote the option.

For half a century, abortion rights were rooted in the U.S. Constitution’s 14th Amendment, passed after the Civil War to guarantee equal rights to all after slavery. Now that the U.S. Supreme Court has struck down a right to abortion, critics say women could once again be forced to reproduce — as were slaves. VOA’s Veronica Balderas Iglesias examines the argument. Warning: This piece contains video that some may find offensive. Videographer and video editor: Veronica Balderas Iglesias