Joe Pojman, the executive director of pro-life advocacy group Texas Alliance for Life, said he and other members of his organization were “ecstatic” after hearing the news.
“Not sure I expected this would come down in my lifetime, but after 35 years in the movement, it has,” he said.
The Supreme Court decision means all 50 states are responsible for drafting their own abortion laws. It also allows dozens of eager states, including Texas, to begin banning the procedure outright. Texas last spring passed a so-called “trigger law,” which will prohibits abortions 30 days after the Supreme Court’s decision.
Kyleen Wright, the president of Texans for Life, said her organization will turn its focus to protecting the state law from any challenges. Wright said Texans for Life will also try to win more public support for the law.
That is likely to be an uphill climb: A University of Texas at Austin poll from last month found that 54 percent of Texans opposed automatically banning all abortions in the state if Roe v. Wade was overturned.
Texas had already taken significant steps to limit abortion access before Friday’s decision. Senate Bill 8, which went into effect last September, prohibits abortion as soon as a fetal heartbeat is detected and created a mechanism through which private citizens can sue abortion providers and others who aided or abetted the procedure.
Wright, who first joined the movement against abortion while living in Houston in 1975, said members of her organization were “pretty jubilant” Friday morning.
“Everyone is very clear that this is the beginning, not the end for us. We have a lot of work to do,” she said. “But everyone is certainly happy to pause and celebrate this big victory.”
Abortion opponents said they need to turn their focus to creating an environment where women do not feel an abortion is necessary under any circumstance. While abortions will be prohibited in Texas, opponents don’t want to see women traveling to other states where the procedure is legal.
Groups that support abortion access say that low-income and minority Texans are most likely to be harmed by a ban on the procedure. Seago said it will be important to take steps to increase support for women during pregnancy and provide medical care for at least one year after a child is born.
Medicaid and the state’s Alternatives to Abortion program do offer support to pregnant women, along with various pro-life nonprofits and church-based ministries.
Pojman believes Texas already has the infrastructure in place to help pregnant women; he said Alternatives to Abortion is designed to serve 150,000 women annually. Texas Health and Human Services statistics show 55,000 abortions were performed in the state in 2020, though that number only includes abortions that were performed legally.
Pojman also noted that SB8 increased Medicaid coverage for women after childbirth to six months, up from 60 days.
“I don’t think enough women in those circumstances even know that these agencies exist,” Pojman said. “Our goal for the foreseeable future is education.”