Calls for even stricter abortion laws in first Texas GOP convention since Roe’s overturn

Despite the conservative victory over abortion rights, many GOP delegates continue to call for tougher state abortion laws.

By David Martin Davies, Texas Public RadioMay 24, 2024 10:02 am, ,

From Texas Public Radio:

SAN ANTONIO — Before the big showy parts of the Texas Republican Party convention, there is a lot of work being done to set the stage for the next two years of the state GOP’s agenda.

That work is done late into the night with the meetings of the Republican Platform Committee and the Legislative Priorities Committee, where John Segal held up his smart phone and waived it in the air over his head to the committee members.

“Everybody has this — you have an abortion clinic within arms reach,” Segal said. “This is the new tactic of the enemy. To get women to go online and it will be in your home, in your mailbox, in your dorm by the weekend. Most of the 10,000 delegates that are going to be here this weekend don’t know that. So we need your help. We need abortion and stopping abortion and going after these illegal abortion sites high up on the list.”

Segal and other pro-life delegates were facing the competition of other conservative priorities like more border security, public school vouchers and the elimination of property taxes.

Segal said most delegates think the abortion fight is over — but it isn’t.

“The escalation from the enemy is getting bigger. They are putting up billboards in South Texas saying ‘go to this site to order your abortion pills,’ ” he said. “If you go over to the University of Texas at San Antonio, go into a public restroom there is a sticker on the wall that says, “do you want to be unpregnant?” And it has a QR code. Scan it and boom … abortion pills in your mailbox.”

Bryan Olin Dozier / Reuters

People arrive for the first day of the 2024 Texas State Republican Convention in San Antonio on May 23, 2024.

As the delegates meet to craft the official positions for the ruling party of Texas, they draft the language by debating almost every word — including whether to ban IVF in the state as part of the effort to abolish abortion.

“I was proposing that because we were talking specifically about people who are pregnant that we move the IVF plank from health and human services to this section to abolish abortion,” said one GOP delegate.

“Mr. Chairman, I think that since IVF is a medical procedure I think it’s relevant to that section,” said another Republican delegate. “I like that we should have pro-life reiterated throughout our platform so I don’t think it hurts to show that this procedure, which is unethical, should be called out as such.”

Delegates acknowledged that the current state abortion ban is failing because many are able to travel to other states where there is abortion freedom.


Attendees at the state Republican convention in San Antonio in May 2024.

“I’d like to speak that that — the situation we are in in the State of Texas is women are being transported out of Texas most times in a crisis situation where people are aiding and abetting,” said Patrick Van Dohlen.

The delegate is seeking a law that would prohibit out of state travel for obtaining an abortion. Another speaker pointed out that in the United States, there is the right of freedom of movement, and this couldn’t be enforced. Another delegate said that doesn’t matter.

“We are saying that if you do go across state lines to commit murder of the unborn, you come back and an investigation determines its so, you can be brought up on charges.”

Not all delegates are in favor of tougher abortion laws.

“My name is Gilda Bygone, and I am here begging you to take abortion off the plank because it’s the one issue that Democrats are winning with.”

The delegate said because of the push back on the abortion issue, Republicans could lose the next presidential election. That view didn’t sit well with the majority of the committee delegates.

“So my question is to you, how many children are you willing to let die to win an election?” Another delegate responded to applause.

Bygone had no answer. She pointed out that’s not a real question but a statement — a statement that could divide a Republican Party that once was united on fighting abortion, until it became unpopular.

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