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Beto O’Rourke blasts Gov. Abbott as Texas abortion ‘trigger law’ takes effect

Beto O'Rourke stands at a podium full of microphones with people standing behind him.
Lucio Vasquez
Houston Public Media
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Beto O’Rourke was joined by medical professionals and patients who shared their own experiences with the state’s continued effort to restrict access to abortions on Thursday.

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Beto O'Rourke condemned Texas’ “trigger law” on abortion — which took effect Thursday — during a visit to a Houston clinic that previously offered abortions.

During a press conference inside of Houston Women’s Reproductive Services, O’Rourke slammed Gov. Greg Abbott for creating “chaos” within the state and urged Texans to participate in the upcoming November election.

“Reproductive health care is under attack in this state more than it is anywhere else in this country, probably anywhere else in the developed world,” O’Rourke said. “There’s one person who is responsible for that, and that is Governor Greg Abbott.”

O’Rourke was joined by medical professionals and patients who shared their own experiences with the state’s continued effort to restrict access to abortions.

Among them was graduate student Elizabeth Weller, who said her water broke 18 weeks into her pregnancy. Weller said she was told that her baby would die as soon as it was birthed — regardless of whether or not the baby was carried to term.

She said the hospital sent her home because she “was not sick enough at the time” — effectively leaving her to incur an infection from her condition or wait for the baby die.

“I was lucky enough to have an ethics committee to rule in my favor within the four days, but other women will not have that luxury,” Weller said. “Other women are going to be put in a position, in a situation, where they will most likely die. This is the future for many women.”

This comes as the state’s trigger law — House Bill 1280 — goes into effect, effectively banning abortions through the threat of felony prosecutions for doctors who perform the procedure. The law was passed last year and designed to go into effect 30 days after the reversal of Roe v. Wade. The law was among several pieces of legislation sought by Republican lawmakers to curb access to abortions in Texas, including Senate Bill 8 — which bans the procedure after six weeks of pregnancy.

Lee Bar-Eli, a Harris County family physician, joined O’Rourke during Thursday’s press conference. She said the continuous push to outlaw abortion in Texas has hindered and confused healthcare professionals across the state.

“Are we going to let politicians with no healthcare experience make those decisions for us?,” she said. “I can’t believe that after everything we’ve gone through, we’re now being told how to practice medicine.”

In a recent poll from The Dallas Morning News and the University of Texas at Tyler, Abbott had a seven-percentage point lead over O’Rourke — with 46% of Texans in favor of the incumbent Abbott and 39% in favor of O'Rourke.

With early voting now two months away, both candidates have begun releasing TV advertisements, with two from O’Rourke focusing on abortion rights.

“We want to make sure that we trust the freedom, the will and the choices the women of this state make,” O’Rourke said during Thursday’s press conference. “Most of us — nearly all of us in Texas — regardless of our differences, can agree with that much. The only way though, to make sure that we can do that is to win this election in November.”

Lucio Vasquez is a reporter at Houston Public Media, writing and editing stories for
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