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The Fight Over Texas' Abortion Laws Isn't Finished

Beth Cortez-Neavel/Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)
Abortion rights activists rally in 2013 to protest the passage of a Texas law restricting abortion access.

From Texas Standard:

Texas politicians were quick to send out tweets and press releases reacting to the Supreme Court's decision Monday, ruling 5-3 that a 2013 Texas law restricting abortion procedures placed an “undue burden” on people who seek care. The social media flurry broke down predictably along party lines. 

From the Democrats:

From the Republicans:

While the ruling was a big win for abortion rights activists everywhere, anti-abortion lawmakers, lobbyists and advocates are not done with the fight to limit abortion access throughout the state.

Edgar Walters, reporter for the Texas Tribune, says the political right is ultimately trying to overturn the landmark Roe v. Wade, which extended the right to a person’s decision to have an abortion.

"The question now facing those Republican lawmakers is how can they go about crafting new regulations on abortion, or other sort of practices to trying to limit the scope or the number of abortions in Texas,” Walters says. “They're going to have to thread that needle very carefully given the constraints of the Supreme Court ruling."

Walters says anti-abortion advocates may still be in state of shock over the decision, but they have vowed to come back and give it another go in the 2017 legislative session. "We're going to see more of a tactic switch from restrictions on providers themselves into looking at the practice," Walters says.

There’s also slight possibility of Gov. Greg Abbott calling a special session to address the issue, Walters says. "If he decided that this Supreme Court ruling constituted enough of an emergency, he could ask lawmakers to come to Austin right now and pass a new law,” Walters says. “He so far has declined to weigh in on whether he would even do that. Even talking to the staunchest opponents of abortion in the state legislature, they haven't said that they are necessarily calling for a special session either."

The most likely outcome is we'll see an onslaught of anti-abortion laws in 2017, Walters says. Meanwhile, Walters says pro-abortion activists like Wendy Davis are feeling vindicated by the ruling. The decision comes on the anniversary of Davis’ iconic filibuster, where she stood for 11 hours in an attempt to block the first iteration of the bill from passing during a special session. Although the filibuster failed to meet its 13-hour deadline, a parliamentary inquiry by Leticia Van De Putte set the gallery in uproar – a disturbance never before seen in the Senate – which effectively kept the vote from coming to head before the session closed at midnight.

Then-governor Rick Perry did call another special session where the bill ultimately passed. "You talk to people on (Davis’) side – the people wearing orange in the gallery who came out to oppose HB 2 on that day,” Walter says. “It's been quite an emotional rollercoaster for them." But abortion rights activists say their fight isn't over either.

At a rally at a popular Austin political hangout, barbecue spot Sholz Garten, Democrats Rep. Donna Howard, Rep. Elliott Naishtat, Sen. Kirk Watson and Texas representative-hopeful Gina Hinojosa urged a crowd of 300 to continue to press for abortion rights.

"Today we celebrate, tomorrow we begin again the work, the strategizing, to further these rights and protect these rights," Hinojosa said.

Post by Beth Cortez-Neavel.

Laura first joined the KUT team in April 2012. She now works for the statewide program Texas Standard as a reporter and producer. Laura came to KUT from the world of television news. She has worn many different hats as an anchor, reporter and producer at TV stations in Austin, Amarillo and Toledo, OH. Laura is a proud graduate of the University of Missouri-Columbia, a triathlete and enjoys travel, film and a good beer. She enjoys spending time with her husband and pets.
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