AUSTIN — After taking a monumental win from the U.S. Supreme Court on Friday, anti-abortion advocates and lobbyists are now set on changing mindsets and supporting pregnant people in need, while abortion providers are searching for other avenues to provide care.
In a highly anticipated opinion, SCOTUS justices ruled that the right to an abortion is not explicitly constitutionally protected, directly overturning nearly 50 years of precedent set by Roe v. Wade and affirmed in Planned Parenthood v. Casey.
Instead, the court returned the decision on abortion laws to individual states. In Texas, the opinion led to an immediate halt of the procedure as providers work through legal options.
For Joe Pojman, executive director of Texas Alliance for Life, the decision could not come soon enough.
“We are ecstatic,” he said in a statement following the news.
With this win under their belt, Pojman said the anti-abortion movement will transition into a new phase – the “pro-life movement 2.0,” as he called it.
Rebecca Parma, senior legislative associate with Texas Right to Life, said the fight is not over in their view.
“This is not the end of the story; it's really just the end of a chapter. And we're moving into a new chapter in the pro-life movement,” she said.
Pojman said that although they anticipate plenty of lawsuits about the court decision, his organization will begin to concentrate greater effort “in providing compassionate alternatives to women with unplanned pregnancies.”
In that, Pojman said his group will continue to push for funding of the state’s Alternatives to Abortion program, to which state legislators have appropriated $100 million. The program provides counseling, material assistance and social services for up to three years after birth. The state budget accounts for helping about 150,000 women each year, Pojman said.
While the program is funded at the whims of the state Legislature, Pojman said he believes there is enough support for the program that he does not see it ending any time in the near future. He added that his organization will continue to monitor the results of the program.
“We have a goal of creating a society in Texas which truly is compassionate for women with unplanned pregnancies so that no woman seeks to have an abortion,” Pojman said. “We want women to have all the resources they need to successfully carry their babies to term, give birth to the babies, (then) keep the babies or place the babies for adoption and would feel 100% at peace with those options.”
Current law, including the state’s pre-Roe statutes and so-called “trigger law” passed last year, criminalizes the act of performing an abortion or aiding someone in receiving an abortion through threats of heavy fines, litigation and jail time. This includes providing abortion pills, or any other procedure or method used in the completion an abortion, but it stops short of criminalizing mothers. There is some differing interpretation about when each of these laws will take effect.
Both Pojman and Parma said their organizations are firmly against criminalizing mothers.
“It's going to take some time to change that narrative, to change the culture of acknowledging that abortion isn't the answer,” Parma said. “So while that shift takes place, in our minds, the penalty needs to be on those who are profiting off the abortion.”
Abortion rights advocates also see the start of a new chapter in Texas.
While abortion providers across the state paused performing the procedure and funds were halted to those seeking abortion care, advocates vowed to keep fighting.
Jeffrey Hons, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood South Texas, said the “fight to bring back abortion access to Texans begins today.”
Hons said all Planned Parenthood locations have ceased performing abortions in Texas but remain open as the organization provides a wide range of health care services beyond abortions.
“There is nothing about the Supreme Court decision that makes a Depo-Provera shot or a cycle of birth control pills in any way unavailable,” he said.
Aimee Arrambide, executive director of Avow, a nonprofit that works to secure unrestricted abortion access in Texas through education and political action, said abortion rights advocates are resilient.
“Today we are grieving and we are enraged, but tomorrow we continue our fight,” Arrambide said. “While right now we are forced to comply with this law, abortion funds are experts in building power in our communities, and we are never going to stop showing up.”
Abortion rights advocates are encouraging Texans to take their anger to polls, seeing the November election as the next major turning point to possibly reduce the power of Republican lawmakers in the state.
"Now more than ever, we are committed to getting out to vote for candidates who will restore abortion access here in Texas,” said Dyana Limon-Mercado, executive director of Planned Parenthood Texas Votes. "I want every legislator and politician to hear me loud and clear. The Supreme Court has turned their back on us and has made a decision that the overwhelming majority of Texans do not agree with. We are not going to accept this decision or quietly disappear. We are not going to stop fighting for the basic dignity we deserve."