Though Gov. Greg Abbot didn’t list abortion-related legislation as an emergency item in his State of the State address earlier this week, he did make a strong appeal to Republicans in the Legislature to push for more restrictions on abortion during this session.
And it looks like several abortion restriction bills have been filed. If they become law, Texas could be left with some of the strictest abortion laws in the country.
Andrea Zelinski covers state politics for Texas Monthly. She told Texas Standard that Republicans feel “freer” to push for abortion restrictions this year because of the GOP’s performance in the 2020 election, and because the U.S. Supreme Court now has a conservative majority.
“A lot of Republicans were maybe going into [the 2020 election] worried that they wouldn’t win because the 2018 elections had taken out so many of their comrades,” Zelinski said. “But they, particularly in the House, held their numbers, so that might embolden them to maybe take a few more risks than they could have in the past.”
The bills lawmakers have filed so far would place a variety of limits on abortion access, including preventing women from obtaining one after 12 weeks of pregnancy or based on whether a fetal heartbeat can be detected.
Another category of bills would limit organizations that support abortion access in some way.
“There’s one bill that would ban cities, for example, like Austin, that provide extra help to people who are getting abortions,” Zelinski said.
On the other hand, Democrats are likely to seek more access to abortion, but they face an uphill battle since they’re in the minority in the Texas House and Senate.
Zelinksi says Abbott’s focus on abortion in his State of the State speech indicates he wants to be seen as a staunch opponent of abortion ahead of his reelection campaign in 2022.