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Texas conservatives celebrate decision on abortion while Democrats, providers say they'll fight back

Anti-abortion demonstrators are separated from Abortion rights demonstrators state police during a rally at the Texas Capitol, Saturday, May 14, 2022, in Austin, Texas.
Eric Gay
/
AP
Anti-abortion demonstrators are separated from Abortion rights demonstrators state police during a rally at the Texas Capitol, Saturday, May 14, 2022, in Austin, Texas.

A victory for the unborn? A win for states’ rights? An abhorrent rollback of constitutional protections?

The reactions after Friday’s U.S. Supreme Court decision on abortion have been passionate, quick and predictable following the high court’s decision to end nearly five decades of constitutional protections for abortions.

The Supreme Court decided in a 6-3 opinion that the issue of abortion should be returned to the states, a victory for Texas and other Republican-led states that have vowed to outlaw the practice.


Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said in a statement that he is looking forward to a near-complete ban on abortion after the state Legislature passed its so-called trigger law in 2021. The law will take effect in the coming weeks and effectively criminalizes abortion unless it’s performed to prevent the death or serious injury of the pregnant person.

“Nevertheless, for half a century, Americans have had to live under these illegitimate, illegal, and unconstitutional dictates of a partisan, willful Supreme Court. No more,” Paxton said, adding that he was closing the department’s offices at noon to commemorate the decision and will mark June 24 as an office holiday in the future.

“Today, the question of abortion returns to the states. And in Texas, that question has already been answered: abortion is illegal here. I look forward to defending the pro-life laws of Texas and the lives of all unborn children moving forward.”

Gov. Greg Abbott followed suit, as did Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick.

“The U.S. Supreme Court correctly overturned Roe v. Wade and reinstated the right of states to protect innocent, unborn children. Texas is a pro-life state, and we have taken significant action to protect the sanctity of life,” Abbott said. “Texas will always fight for the innocent unborn, and I will continue working with the Texas legislature and all Texans to save every child from the ravages of abortion and help our expectant mothers in need."

Patrick cheered that “Texas has taken the lead to ensure that such evil can no longer live in our state.”

“The Supreme Court's ruling is an acknowledgement of the truth: when an abortion is performed, a human life is ended. This watershed victory is not just a victory for innocent life, but a victory for all of humanity," he added.

U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, celebrated that the justices did not succumb to the “radical left.”

“Today, the Court has restored one of the core principles of our Constitution with this landmark ruling. This decision correctly returns the authority of states to decide the limits on abortion and will save countless innocent lives,” he said. “I commend the Justices for not bowing to the vicious intimidation campaign waged by the radical Left. I join Texans in celebrating this historic victory for life and the rule of law.”

Democrats vowed to keep fighting for reproductive justice in the lead-up to the November elections as abortion providers said that although down, they were not completely out.

“It is a dark day in America when a Supreme Court ruling ensures the generations that follow ours will have fewer rights than we enjoy now,” said U.S. Rep. Veronica Escobar, D-El Paso. “House Democrats will continue the fight to ensure every woman has the freedom to make personal decisions with those they love and trust without politicians trying to control them. I implore my colleagues in the Senate to pass the Women’s Health Protection Act with heightened urgency to enshrine access to abortion care into law in our country.”

The Women’s Health Protection Act would protect abortion access nationwide by creating the right for health care providers to provide — and a corresponding right for their patients to receive — abortion care, according to the Center for Reproductive Rights.

Former Congressman Beto O’Rourke, who is challenging Abbott in November, said the decision is part of the reason Texans should vote to oust the incumbent later this year.

“The Supreme Court has sent this back to the states, and our state’s current governor has outlawed abortion beginning at conception with no exception for rape or incest,” he said in a statement. “If you care about protecting a woman’s freedom to make her own decisions about her own body, health care, and future, join this campaign and help us win.”

U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-San Antonio, said the decision could empower “extremists” to take matters into their own hands.

“The Supreme Court’s action today will force women and girls to carry pregnancies that were conceived through rape and incest and empower extremists to persecute people who suffer a miscarriage or high-risk pregnancy that threatens their life,” he said. “The House has voted to codify abortion rights through the Women’s Health Protection Act, and the Senate needs to act with urgency to do the same. Every American should have the freedom to decide when and how to start a family.”

The National Abortion Federation, which operates the largest abortion fund and hotline in the country, said it won’t be deterred in finding avenues to continue offering access to abortion and medical care.

“The Supreme Court’s decision to end the constitutional right to abortion by overturning Roe v. Wade in the Dobbs case is abhorrent. Today’s decision confirms the worst-case scenario that reproductive rights advocates have been bracing for and this is a heartbreaking day,” said Melissa Fowler, the National Abortion Federation’s chief program officer. “Roe may have fallen today, but we are still standing. NAF is working closely with our members to navigate how this ruling will impact abortion care in each state and how we can together ensure access to essential abortion care for all who need it. That includes providing security services to clinics that are likely to see a rise in harassment and violence from extremists emboldened by this ruling.

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Got a tip? Email Julián Aguilar at jaguilar@kera.org.You can follow Julián on Twitter @nachoaguilar.
Copyright 2022 KERA. To see more, visit KERA.

Sergio Martínez-Beltrán is the Texas Capitol Reporter for The Texas Newsroom. Got a tip? Email him at smb@kut.org. Follow him on Twitter @SergioMarBel.
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