Governor Greg Abbott, activists, religious leaders and thousands of abortion opponents gathered outside the Capitol on Saturday to celebrate the impact of Texas’ abortion law and to push for further restrictions. more important.
Saturday’s Texas Rally for Life comes nearly five months after Texas sparked a national conversation about abortion access. State lawmakers passed Senate Bill 8, the nation’s most restrictive abortion ban, in last year’s regular legislative session, and Abbott quickly signed it into law.
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The law, which took effect on September 1, prohibits abortion after six weeks of pregnancy – which is often before most people know they are pregnant. Abortion providers said they were complying with the law, which had the effect of dramatically reducing abortion in the state.
“There is no freedom more precious than life itself. I promised to protect a child’s life with a heartbeat, and we did,” Abbott told the crowd. Saturday. “I’m proud to join you in this fight to protect the sanctity of life in Texas.”
Protesters kicked off the rally at the intersection of East 13th and Brazos streets and marched toward the Capitol chanting “We are pro-life!”
Speakers included the Reverend Joe Vasquez, Roman Catholic Bishop of Austin; State Representative Giovanni Capriglione, R-Southlake and Joe Pojman, executive director of the Texas Alliance for Life.
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Janette Taylor, who drove from Belton with her daughter Chelsea Taylor, 22, to attend the rally, said she wanted to see more resources available for women who may feel abortion is their only choice.
“Abortion hurts, and I really wish women had other choices in a difficult situation,” Janette Taylor said. “Women can feel hopeless and think abortion is their only choice, and that saddens me. We can do more to help women choose life.”
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Abbott said on Saturday he prioritized helping pregnant women in need.
“I’m proud that Texas is stepping up and providing $100 million for alternatives to abortion programs to support pregnant women in need,” he said.
Texas abortion law uses a unique enforcement mechanism that has resulted in legal battles in local, state and federal courtrooms.
The law prohibits state officials from enforcing the six-week ban and instead allows any private individual to sue abortion providers, or people who aid and abet an abortion, beyond six weeks gestation. Successful litigants can collect at least $10,000.
This provision has complicated efforts to challenge the law in court, as state attorneys argue that Texas and state officials cannot be sued as a way to block the law because they are not responsible. of its application.
But abortion providers and abortion rights organizations say the law was drafted to escape judicial scrutiny, which has largely been the case in multiple legal challenges brought by providers.
Annette Montgomery of Waco brought her children, Evelyn, 11, and Catherine, 9, to Saturday’s rally.
“I really want my kids to know that they’re a gift to us, to those around them, they’re a gift to our community,” Montgomery said. “I want them to know they have a role to play in speaking up for people who can’t speak up for themselves.”
The rally fell on the anniversary of the Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, which ruled that the US Constitution protects a pregnant person’s right to choose to have an abortion.
The Supreme Court has three times refused to intervene at the request of abortion providers and block enforcement of the new Texas law while court cases regarding its constitutionality unfold.
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But depending on how the court handles a challenge to a Mississippi law banning abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy, previous rulings establishing a right to abortion could be overturned.
Texas is one of several conservative states to pass a so-called trigger ban, which would criminalize abortion to the extent authorized by the Supreme Court. The law would come into effect 30 days after a relevant court decision and would not require the intervention of the legislature or any official to be implemented.
Similar to SB 8, the law would not include exceptions for rape or incest and would only allow abortion in rare circumstances, including when a woman’s life is in danger. This law would not rely on private prosecutions for its enforcement. Instead, abortion providers who perform illegal abortions could be charged with a second-degree felony and face fines of at least $100,000.
Austin American-Statesman reporter Natalia Contreras can be reached at 512-626-4036 or email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook, @NataliaECG.