Courts

Texans React as Supreme Court Overturns Roe v. Wade

Reproductive rights advocates are blasting the Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.
Reproductive rights advocates are blasting the Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade. Shutterstock
Olivia Julianna had steeled herself for this moment, but the Texas reproductive rights activist still felt sick to her stomach. On Friday, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, the landmark ruling that guaranteed abortion as a constitutional right.

“It took everything in me not to vomit,” Julianna, the political strategist for an organization called Gen-Z for Change, said by email.

Advocates on both sides of the abortion debate had anticipated the reversal after Politico reported on a leaked Supreme Court draft opinion in May. But what little hope Texas pro-choice activists had held out for Roe’s future all but evaporated with Friday’s 5-4 decision.

Last year, Texas Republican lawmakers virtually outlawed the procedure in one of the strictest pieces of anti-abortion legislation in the country, Senate Bill 8. The so-called “Heartbeat Act,” which doesn’t provide exceptions for rape or incest, bans abortion after around six weeks, before many realize they’re pregnant.

In a statement, Republican Gov. Greg Abbott celebrated Roe's reversal, something he believes will “allow states to protect the lives of all unborn babies in America.”

Julianna, meanwhile, is hell-bent on getting voters to the polls to elect local and state leadership who will fight to protect abortion rights. She said certain Republican lawmakers have already begun to target abortion funds and clinic workers.

“I am so angry,” Julianna said. “I will make sure that Greg Abbott is never elected in this state again or I will die trying, and that goes for every Republican legislator who has sided with him.”

Even in conservative Texas, one recent survey found that 78% of respondents think that abortion should be permitted in some form, according to The Texas Tribune.

Still, recent polling also shows that Abbott, who’s up for reelection in November, is 5 points ahead of his Democratic opponent, Beto O’Rourke.

“We want Texas to be pro-life and not just abortion-free.” – Dr. John Seago, Texas Right to Life

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Abbott has campaigned heavily on the issue of abortion. He's claimed that Texas has made women’s health care a priority and has allocated resources so that people will “choose life for their child.”

The governor also pointed to his past pushes to provide funding for a program called "Alternatives to Abortion,” which purports to give resources to moms in need. (Critics, meanwhile, have called the program “secretive” and “predominantly a waste of taxpayer dollars,” according to The Texas Tribune.)

“Texas will always fight for the innocent unborn,” Abbott wrote, “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.”

But Brianna Brown, the Texas Organizing Project’s co-executive director, said the Supreme Court’s decision will harm the country’s marginalized communities, particularly those who are Latino and Black. The fight for abortion access is also a battle for racial justice, she said in a statement.

“Our presence will be felt in the streets, and our rage will be channeled at the ballot box as we will stop at nothing to win,” Brown continued, “because future generations deserve so much more than regressive policies holding us back from living the full, happy lives we all have a right to live.”

On its website, the anti-abortion organization Texas Right to Life argued that abortion is immediately outlawed because of the state’s “pre-Roe laws” and a newer “trigger ban,” which will impose criminal penalties on providers 30 days after Roe’s reversal.

Texas Right to Life President John Seago praised Friday’s decision, calling it a “phenomenal moment for the pro-life movement.” He said his organization will aim to clear up confusion about abortion’s legal status so that providers don’t break the law while waiting for the trigger ban to take effect.

Seago also noted that some district attorneys, such as Dallas County's John Creuzot, have vowed to not seek criminal charges related to abortion. Legislators must work to ensure that such laws are enforced across the board, he said.

But the state has more work to do to remove hurdles for Texans facing unexpected and difficult pregnancies, Seago added: “We want Texas to be pro-life and not just abortion-free.”
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Simone Carter, a staff news reporter at the Dallas Observer, graduated from the University of North Texas' Mayborn School of Journalism. Her favorite color is red, but she digs Miles Davis' Kind of Blue.
Contact: Simone Carter