Roe v. Wade overturned: Reaction from Texas lawmakers, Houston leaders span from praise to disgust

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Friday, June 24, 2022
Abbott, Beto, Ogg, Paxton weigh Texas' future after Roe overturned
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Texas Gov. Greg Abbott led state reaction to Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade, praising the ruling. Houston-area leaders were mostly opposed.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- The state of Texas, which was home to the original Roe v. Wade abortion rights fight more than 50 years ago, has been a close observer of where the U.S. Supreme Court would steer an impending ruling to overturn the landmark decision.

On Friday, when the conservative-majority high court made overturning Roe official, lawmakers and leaders from Austin to Houston both celebrated and condemned what amounts to taking back the right to an abortion to the state level.

Gov. Greg Abbott

Gov. Abbott, R-Texas, who signed the Texas Heartbeat Act, which essentially deputized private citizens to out not only those getting an abortion but also anyone beyond the operating physician who facilitated the procedure, praised the Supreme Court for "correctly" overturning Roe.

"Texas is a pro-life state, and we have taken significant action to protect the sanctity of life," an Abbott statement read.

The two-term Republican, who is in an election year for a third, also provided examples of how his administration made strides to help Texas women.

"Texas has also prioritized supporting women's healthcare and expectant mothers in need to give them the necessary resources so that they can choose life for their child. I signed laws that extended Medicaid health care coverage to six months post-partum, appropriated $345 million for women's health programs, and invested more than $100 million toward our Alternatives to Abortion program. This critical program provides counseling, mentoring, care coordination, and material assistance, such as car seats, diapers, and housing to mothers in need," Abbott's statement continued.

"Texas will always fight for the innocent unborn, and I will continue working with the Texas legislature and all Texans to save every child from the ravages of abortion and help our expectant mothers in need," the governor concluded.

Texas is among a slew of states expected to outlaw abortions, an ABC News analysis showed.

Texas gubernatorial candidate Beto O'Rourke

Instead of reacting to the implications Roe will have on the state, Abbott's Democratic challenger, Beto O'Rourke, had a simple mission statement regarding women's right to choose: win this November.

"The only way to overcome today's decision is to win this race for governor. The Supreme Court has sent this back to the states, and our state's current governor has outlawed abortion beginning at conception with no exception for rape or incest. If you care about protecting a woman's freedom to make her own decisions about her own body, health care, and future, join this campaign and help us win," an O'Rourke statement read.

Kim Ogg, Harris County District Attorney

Ogg is one of the opposing voices to the Supreme Court overturning abortion rights. In a statement, she summarized the ruling as a dangerous one for women.

"The criminalization of reproductive health will cause great harm to women in America; prosecutors and police have no role in matters between doctors and patients. As in every case, we will evaluate the facts and make decisions on a case-by-case basis," Ogg said in a statement, indicating how her office may handle abortion cases going forward.

Ken Paxton, Texas Attorney General

Ogg's plan over the prosecution of abortion-related offenses may be all for naught based on state Attorney General Ken Paxton's statement released after Roe was reversed.

"Roe v. Wade and its successor case Planned Parenthood v. Casey have absolutely no basis in the U.S. Constitution," Paxton said. "Nevertheless, for half a century, Americans have had to live under these illegitimate, illegal, and unconstitutional dictates of a partisan, willful Supreme Court. No more. Today, the question of abortion returns to the states. And in Texas, that question has already been answered: abortion is illegal here. I look forward to defending the pro-life laws of Texas and the lives of all unborn children moving forward."

Paxton went on to mark Friday as "an annual Office of the Attorney General holiday," with a plan to close his offices at noon as a memorial for the "almost 70 million babies" killed in the womb.

"Our hearts and prayers go out to all of them. Never again should something like this happen in America," Paxton concluded.

Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo

Judge Lina Hidalgo echoed District Attorney Ogg's sentiment on the dangers the Roe ruling will have on women.

"What a tragic trampling on the progress women have made, a sad day as long-standing rights are stripped, a dangerous moment for Texas women forced into underground abortions. As the woman in charge of Texas' largest county, I'm further emboldened. I'll continue to fight for us all," Hidalgo tweeted.

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner

Mayor Sylvester Turner says he stands for the woman's right to choose, but as part of a statement, he believes the Supreme Court decision could lead to rollbacks of additional guarantees, including the right to contraception and same-sex marriage, the latter of which Justice Clarence Thomas has indicated that he wants "corrected."

Turner's statement in full read:

"Today is a sad day across America. The U.S. Supreme Court's ruling to overturn Roe v. Wade is a chilling and incomprehensible decision. It means women no longer have a federal constitutional right to make decisions about their bodies and what is best for their lives.

This decision unravels 50 years of precedent and settled law. I have always believed a woman has a right to choose and make personal decisions about her health care. I believe abortion is part of comprehensive reproductive health care and support the right to choose as fundamental to each person's autonomy. Individuals and their doctors should make personal life decisions.

I am now equally concerned that SCOTUS, with a stroke of a pen, will eliminate rights to privacy, contraception, and LGBTQ progress made in recent years.

If people are concerned about the direction of this country, I encourage them to show up at the ballot box and exercise their right to vote in November and every election."

COMPLETE COVERAGE: Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade, transforming abortion rights in US