Yvonne Gutierrez, executive director of Planned Parenthood Texas Votes, said that she is energized by the election results but that the 14 new Democrats in the Legislature will face an uphill battle in blocking legislation that limits abortion access.
“We are going to work to protect access to reproductive health care and abortion no matter what and will continue to advocate,” she said. “We are going to fight tooth and nail to stop any legislation that seeks to further restrict access.”
Before Roe vs. Wade, abortion was illegal in Texas, except if the mother’s life was in danger or in cases of rape or incest. After a pregnant Dallas woman challenged the status quo, the 1973 Supreme Court decision legalized the procedure.
It would take five Supreme Court votes to overturn the ruling. Kavanaugh could be the fifth, though Texas Alliance for Life director Joe Pojman said he doesn’t believe Roe will be overturned.
“But there is a good chance, if other questions came before the Supreme Court, Kavanaugh could help us prevail on issues we have not in the past,” Pojman said.
In 2016, the Supreme Court struck down a Texas law that would require abortion clinics to meet surgical-center standards and require doctors who perform abortions to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital.
Senate Bill 8, the major abortion bill of last year’s legislative session, is still being challenged in the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The law would require fetal remains from abortions and miscarriages to be cremated or buried and outlaw a common second-trimester procedure, dilation and evacuation, which abortion opponents refer to as as “dismemberment” abortion.
Pojman said he believes Kavanaugh could help uphold these laws if they come before the Supreme Court.
“We don’t expect Roe to be overturned anytime soon, but we hope that sometime in the future the precedent will change to protect unborn children,” Pojman said.