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Texas law restricting abortion will go into effect Aug. 25, attorney general says

Fort Worth Roe v. Wade Protest
Azul Sordo
/
KERA
Protesters march through Downtown Fort Worth during a pro-choice rally June 25, one day after the Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.

The direction from Ken Paxton comes after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton on Wednesday issued new guidance on the state’s “trigger law” that outlaws most abortions, saying the measure goes into effect August 25.

The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision last month to overturn the 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling paved the way for the legislation, Texas’ House Bill 1280, to go into effect. The law makes it a second-degree felony if a person “performs, induces, or attempts an abortion.” The penalty increases to a first-degree penalty if the unborn child dies.

The Supreme Court issued its opinion in the case June 24, but the Texas law doesn’t go into effect until 30 days after the court’s official judgement in the matter, which was published Tuesday.

“Now that the Supreme Court has finally overturned Roe, I will do everything in my power to protect mothers, families, and unborn children, and to uphold the state laws duly enacted by the Texas Legislature,” Paxton said in the guidance.

The new law also allows the attorney general to bring civil damages of no less than $100,000 for each abortion performed, which Paxton said he stands ready to enforce.

“Further, we stand ready to assist any local prosecutor who pursues criminal charges,” he said. “Additionally state licensing authorities ‘shall revoke the license, permit, registration, certificate, or other authority of a physician or other health care professional who performs, induces, or attempts an abortion in violation of’ the Act,” he said.

Texas was one of several states in the country that passed a “trigger law” in anticipation of a high court ruling that restricted access to abortion. But some clinics in Texas had already closed or relocated to other states after Paxton said a 1925 law that was never enforced could be resurrected after the court’s decision. That law allows for civil penalties and lawsuits against abortion providers and the state Supreme Court ruling to let it stand.

Though Paxton, Gov. Greg Abbott and other state Republicans have for years championed restrictive abortion legislation, recent polling shows that a majority of registered voters favor legislation that is less severe than what will soon become state law.

Nearly 80% favor a policy that is less restrictive than HB 1280, according to the results of a poll released Tuesday by the Hobby School of Public Affairs at the University of Houston.

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Got a tip? Email Julián Aguilar at jaguilar@kera.org.You can follow Julián on Twitter @nachoaguilar.