MARTINEZ-BELTRAN: That victory, however, was short-lived. Just a few weeks later, in another special session, Texas lawmakers passed a sweeping anti-abortion package that included a ban on abortions after 20 weeks of gestation. The U.S. Supreme Court eventually struck down key provisions of the bill, but by then, more than half of the state’s abortion providers closed. The story of how Texas got to this place of banning nearly all abortions is one that has taken decades.
AMY O’DONNELL: We’ve seen a lot of incremental gains over time.
MARTINEZ-BELTRAN: This is Amy O’Donnell, the communications director of the Texas Alliance for Life, a group that advocates against abortion.
O’DONNELL: The majority of Texans are pro-life, and we see this because they elect pro-life legislators who advocate for life.
MARTINEZ-BELTRAN: But polls tell a different story. Seventy-eight percent of Texas voters support some sort of access to abortion. Only 15% said it should never be allowed. That’s according to a survey released in April by the Texas Politics Project. Despite that, the state has continued curbing abortion, including passing a so-called trigger law, which now takes effect in 30 days. Most recently, last year, Governor Greg Abbott signed SB 8. That law, the first of its kind in the country, banned abortions as early as six weeks, empowering private citizens to enforce the law. Now that the Supreme Court has overturned Roe v. Wade, O’Donnell says the state will work to support women who are pregnant.
O’DONNELL: Texas is ready to take care of women in our state. And as we’ve seen, Texas prioritized the health of women and the life of babies.
MARTINEZ-BELTRAN: She points to the state’s program called Alternatives to Abortion as an example of that. The program provides assistance, counselling and maternity classes. But it’s also been criticized by Texas Democrats for its $100-million price tag and lack of transparency. But advocates for abortion rights say they’re not completely hopeless.