A Texas bill to ban abortions as soon as Roe v. Wade is overturned passed an initial vote Monday in the state Senate.
The Austin American-Statesman reports the pro-life “trigger bill,” state House Bill 1280, would protect unborn babies completely or as much as the U.S. Supreme Court allows when the justices overturn Roe.
The legislation passed with bipartisan support; a second vote is necessary before it can go to Gov. Greg Abbott’s desk, according to the report.
This bill “will create in Texas the fullest extent of protection for the unborn, in the event and to the extent that the Supreme Court reverses its rulings,” said state Sen. Angela Paxton, R-McKinney, the lead sponsor.
If it passes, the bill would ban or limit abortions in Texas starting 30 days after the Supreme Court rules. Exceptions would be allowed for risks to the mother’s life or a “substantial impairment of major bodily function.” Abortionists who violate the measure could face $100,000 fines or potentially even life in prison.
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Kyleen Wright, president of Texans for Life, told lawmakers earlier this year that the legislation would allow Texas to protect unborn babies’ lives again, according to the Texas Tribune.
“This bill takes us back to the beginning, back where we were before a bunch of men in black robes decided for us,” Wright said.
In 2019 alone, Texas health officials reported more than 56,600 abortions.
Under Roe v. Wade, states are forced to allow abortions up until the baby is viable outside the womb. The ruling makes the United States one of only seven countries in the world that allows elective abortions. Since 1973 when the court issued its ruling, more than 62 million unborn babies have been aborted.
If the bill passes, Texas would join about 10 other states with similar trigger laws that immediately ban abortions once Roe v. Wade is overturned, according to the pro-abortion Guttmacher Institute.
Pro-life advocates hope and abortion activists fear that the Supreme Court may overturn Roe as soon as next year.
Last week, the justices agreed to consider a 2018 Mississippi law that bans abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy. At issue in the case Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization is the question of “whether all pre-viability prohibitions on elective abortion are unconstitutional.”
Many believe the case is a direct challenge to Roe v. Wade and could be used to overturn it.
Meanwhile, Texas is taking other action to protect unborn babies and support mothers in need. Last week, Gov. Greg Abbott signed a heartbeat law to prohibit abortions once an unborn baby’s heartbeat is detectable. Nearly 30 Texas cities also have passed ordinances to ban abortions within their city limits. This spring, state House lawmakers also approved a $20 million increase in funding for programs that provide free support services to pregnant and parenting families.