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Texas will ban abortion if 'Roe v. Wade' is overturned. Here's how Texans are feeling


Texas is among about a dozen states in the U.S. with a trigger law on abortion. That means if the U.S. Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade, abortions will be greatly restricted or banned completely in those states. Now, with the leaked draft of the high court's opinion making the rounds, an opinion that shows the court's conservative majority is ready to overturn Roe, those states with trigger laws are getting close attention.

NPR's Ashley Lopez is in Austin. Hi, Ashley.


FLORIDO: What have you heard from Texas leaders so far about this draft opinion from the U.S. Supreme Court?

LOPEZ: Well, Texas is one of the most conservative states in the country. As you mentioned, we have a law that would ban - effectively ban all abortions 30 days after the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade - if they do, of course. So as you can imagine, political leaders here are happy about what's in this draft opinion. Texas' Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick said in a statement this morning that this is a great day and that Republican lawmakers in the state haven't just been hoping that Roe v. Wade would eventually be overturned, but they've been planning for it, too.

FLORIDO: Well, Texas recently banned all abortions after six weeks. So what does this mean in a state where most abortions are already illegal?

LOPEZ: What Texas has right now is a ban on abortions as early as six weeks into a pregnancy, which is before many people even realize they're pregnant. But abortion is still accessible here for people who make it to a clinic in time. So if Roe v. Wade is overturned, though, and the state's trigger ban goes into effect, abortions will be criminalized across the board. And the only exception will be to save the life of the pregnant person. And it's likely clinics will shutter across the state, and everyone who wants the procedure will have to leave the state to get it.

FLORIDO: What are anti-abortion groups saying today?

LOPEZ: Well, groups here are excited about this. You know, John Seago with Texas Right to Life says his group has been working for years to craft legislation that would force the Supreme Court to reconsider Roe v. Wade. In just the past decade, the court has heard arguments on multiple abortion laws just from here in Texas, and none have taken down Roe v. Wade. Seago says this draft has the potential to be a huge win for his group.

JOHN SEAGO: To see that they are leaning in the direction of overturning Roe is a phenomenal victory for the pro-life movement. It's not the end of the work that we need to do, but it is a significant step in that direction.

FLORIDO: And what about supporters of abortion rights in Texas, Ashley?

LOPEZ: Well, there's a lot of concern there. Because of Texas' six-week ban, in a lot of ways, Roe v. Wade hasn't really existed in this state. Texans have had far fewer abortion rights than the rest of the country for months now. And abortion rights advocates say they know what could be coming for all these other states that have trigger laws on the books.

I spoke to Cristina Parker with the Lilith Fund, which is an abortion fund operating in Texas. She says, already, most people in Texas seeking an abortion have to leave the state to get one.

CRISTINA PARKER: You know, that's already devastating, and that's already horrible. And it's just going to become that everyone has to leave, that nobody can get basic, essential abortion care in their own communities, which is devastating. I think what this means for other states is they're suddenly going to look a lot more like us, look a lot more like Texas, where people are being forced to travel.

LOPEZ: And that, of course, only applies to people who have the means or people who can find the financial and logistical support to leave. Abortion rights advocates also say there are already longer wait times in clinics that provide abortions around the country because of the influx of Texas patients in recent months. And that's only going to get worse if the Supreme Court turns - overturns Roe v. Wade.

FLORIDO: That's NPR's Ashley Lopez in Austin, Texas. Thanks, Ashley.

LOPEZ: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Ashley Lopez
Ashley Lopez is a political correspondent for NPR based in Austin, Texas. She joined NPR in May 2022. Prior to NPR, Lopez spent more than six years as a health care and politics reporter for KUT, Austin's public radio station. Before that, she was a political reporter for NPR Member stations in Florida and Kentucky. Lopez is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and grew up in Miami, Florida.
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