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‘An attack on women’: How Texans are reacting to the prospect of a ban on abortions

An abortion-rights supporter holds a sign at a demonstration outside the Texas Capitol on Tuesday.
Michael Minasi
An abortion-rights supporter holds a sign at a demonstration outside the Texas Capitol on Tuesday.

Texas already has some of the most restrictive abortion laws in the country, despite polls that show a majority of Texans support some access to abortion.

If the U.S. Supreme Court were to overrule Roe v. Wade all abortions would essentially be banned in Texas.

That's because Texas is one of more than a dozen states with so-called trigger laws, set to end access to the procedure should the landmark decision be overturned. Texas’ trigger law was passed last year.

The prospect of this becoming a reality increased this week when Politico published a leaked draft opinion from the court overturning Roe.

A UT/Texas Politics Project poll released Wednesday shows that 54% of all Texas voters would be against banning all abortions in the state if Roe were overturned.

Texas lawmakers respond

Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush celebrated Tuesday morning from Washington, D.C.

“I’m proud to be in a state like Texas where we would ban abortion because of the trigger law we passed in the last legislative session,” he said in a Facebook livestream. “What an amazing day it is for life.”

Later this month, Bush faces Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton in a runoff for the Republican nomination for AG. Paxton said the leaked opinion was a “very good sign.”

“We actually led the amicus brief with 24 states asking the court to consider that since 1972 the Supreme Court has done a very bad job of regulating abortions,” Paxton said in an interview with WBAP radio Monday night. “They took it away from the states.”

Sen. Angela Paxton, the attorney general's wife, sponsored the Senate version of the trigger bill. In a statement Tuesday she expressed her hopes that the U.S. Supreme Court would come through with a ruling favorable to those against abortion rights.

"All people — born and unborn — deserve protection of their inalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,” Paxton said. “It is my prayer that this signal from the United States Supreme Court will become reality."

Gov. Greg Abbott has not commented on social media, but in a recent interview with conservative radio host Joe Pags the Republican governor called the potential decision “monumental.”

Meanwhile, Texas Democrats have expressed their disappointment.

In a series of tweets, Congresswoman Sylvia Garcia, D-Houston, called the potential decision “an attack on women.” She called on her Senate and House colleagues to codify Roe v. Wade in federal law.

“Reproductive rights are human rights — and no one should be denied their human rights,” Garcia tweeted. “Period.”

Abortion rights advocates across the country have mobilized and taken to the streets.

On Tuesday evening, thousands of Texans protested across the state, including at the federal courthouse in Austin.

Chanelle Salinas, a nanny who lives in Austin, told The Texas Newsroom she is concerned with how banning abortions will create inequity; women with resources would have access to safe abortions by traveling out of state, or even abroad. Meanwhile, low-income women would not be as safe.

“We know there are other ways to do these things, but they are dangerous and it would be better if we had safer options,” Salinas said.

Since Texas’ restrictive law — SB 8, which effectively bans abortions around five or six weeks — was enacted last year, nearly 1,400 Texans have gone out of state every month to seek abortion care according to research from the Texas Policy Evaluation Project.

Dr. Bhavik Kumar, an abortion provider with Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast, told Houston Public Media he’s had to refer some patients out of state and expects that to continue.

But he said his organization will continue helping people seeking an abortion.

“We're not going to abandon our patients, we will show up for them, we will help them before they need care, getting them to the care that they need — and be here when they're needing any follow up care or aftercare,” Kumar said. “That's what we know how to do. That's what we're trained to do. And that will certainly continue.”

Sergio Martínez-Beltrán reports on Texas politics and government for The Texas Newsroom.