Following a Supreme Court decision Friday overturning Roe v. Wade, abortion will be banned in Texas.
The court ruled 6-3 to uphold a Mississippi law at the heart of the abortion case and 5-4 to overturn Roe v. Wade more than a month after the stunning leak of a draft opinion by Justice Samuel Alito indicating the court was prepared to take this momentous step of reversing a precedent for a constitutionally protected right.
WHAT IS THE TEXAS TRIGGER LAW?
Thirteen states have laws or constitutional amendments in place, so-called trigger laws, which could be quickly used to ban abortion should Roe v. Wade be overturned.
Texas is one of the states with a trigger law in place. State legislators, anticipating the possibility that one day a conservative court may overturn the case, passed the Human Life Protection Act of 2021 last year during the 87th legislative session.
The ban doesn't start right away and the exact date the ban will be in place is not yet known. The state will ban abortion 30 days after the Supreme Court issues its formal judgment, which is different than the opinion released Friday, according to an advisory from Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, and typically comes within a month of the opinion. Scroll down for more details on when the ban may begin in Texas.
The first sign that the court might be receptive to wiping away the constitutional right to abortion came in late summer when the justices divided 5-4 in allowing Texas to enforce a ban on the procedure at roughly six weeks, which is before some women even know they are pregnant. That dispute turned on the unique structure of the law, including its enforcement by private citizens rather than by state officials, and how it can be challenged in court.
ARE THERE EXCEPTIONS TO THE ABORTION LAW?
The Texas ban on abortion does allow abortions if the life of the mother is in danger or to prevent substantial impairment, but the law doesn't define what that is.
The Texas ban on abortion does not make provisions for cases of rape or incest.
WHAT IS THE PUNISHMENT IN TEXAS?
People who have abortions won't be prosecuted, however, the Texas law does target doctors who would be facing up to life in prison and fines up to $100,000 for performing illegal abortions.
One thing that will also stay in place in Texas is the recent bounty law allowing private citizens to sue anyone who helps someone get an abortion.
TEXAS GOVERNOR RESPONDS AFTER COURT DECISION
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) issued a statement Friday morning, saying the Supreme Court correctly overturned Roe v Wade while touting the state's efforts to improve women's health programs.
"The U.S. Supreme Court correctly overturned Roe v. Wade and reinstated the right of states to protect innocent, unborn children. Texas is a pro-life state, and we have taken significant action to protect the sanctity of life. Texas has also prioritized supporting women's healthcare and expectant mothers in need to give them the necessary resources so that they can choose life for their child. I signed laws that extended Medicaid health care coverage to six months post-partum, appropriated $345 million for women's health programs, and invested more than $100 million toward our Alternatives to Abortion program. This critical program provides counseling, mentoring, care coordination, and material assistance, such as car seats, diapers, and housing to mothers in need.
TEXAS AG ON WHEN THE BAN WILL BEGIN IN TEXAS
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton says it's unclear when the ban will begin in Texas but that his office will make that date known as soon as possible.
Paxton said the Supreme Court released an opinion on Friday and must release its formal judgment before the clock starts on Texas's 30-day countdown to outlaw abortion.
"The Court will issue its judgment only after the window for the litigants to file a motion for rehearing has closed. A judgment can issue in about a month, or longer if the Court considers a motion for rehearing. So while it is clear that the Act will take effect, we cannot calculate exactly when until the Court issues its judgment," Paxton said.
ROE V. WADE HISTORY BEGINS IN DALLAS
The landmark Roe v. Wade abortion case started in Dallas County 49 years ago with a woman named Norma McCorvey.
Dallas attorney Linda Coffee initially represented McCorvey, known as "Jane Roe," in the historic case, filing suit in a Dallas County District Court against then Dallas County District Attorney Henry Wade.
Coffee and her former classmate, attorney Sarah Weddington, argued the case which later advanced to the U.S. Supreme Court. Weddington argued the case before the court twice, in December 1971 and again in October 1972, resulting the next year in the 7-2 ruling that legalized abortion nationwide.
Coffee told NBC 5 earlier this year she was having dinner in May when word came of a leaked draft opinion by the nation’s High Court that indicated Roe might be overturned.
“I just felt that was awful, and I started turning it on all the channels and they said the same thing,” Coffee said. “I thought this was incredible. I didn’t understand how that could happen that someone could leak out an opinion that was just a first draft.”
During the May interview, Coffee, 79, expressed concern that if abortion were left up to individual states it would place an undue burden on women.
“A lot of women don’t have the funds to go to, like, if they were going from here to California,” Coffee said.
Coffee has always expressed concern for women living in poverty and their access to safe and legal procedures. She is once again very concerned about poor women if abortion is outlawed.