Trigger laws and pre-Roe laws make abortions illegal in Texas

Daniela Hurtado Image
Saturday, June 25, 2022
In the state of Texas abortions will be illegal within 30 days of the release of the judgement from the nation's highest court.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- The Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. The opinion was released Friday morning. The overturning of the half-a-century-old decision means abortion rights are now left up to states to determine.

In Texas, abortions will be illegal within 30 days of the release of the judgment from the nation's highest court.

The state of Texas is one of 13 states with trigger laws.

However, Texas also has a pre-Roe law that was never repealed, meaning it's technically in effect today because of the overturning of Roe.

"With our pre-Roe laws going back into effect and that trigger law taking into effect in some point in the near future in Texas, neither of those laws punish the pregnant women who seeks or obtains an abortion," said a senior legislative associate at Texas Right For Life Rebecca Parma.

So what's a pre-Roe law anyway?

Article 1191, also referred to as the zombie law, was litigated.

It hasn't been enforced in five decades; however, it's still in the books.

"That law makes it a crime, a felony, for any person to administer to a pregnant person a drug medicine or use medical means to induce an abortion," said Professor of Law at the University of Houston, Seth Chandler.

Since Roe was overturned, it now makes the decades-old law technically enforceable.

"There's a legal question whether you can enforce a law that has not been enforced for fifty years that if you try to find it that if your readers try to find it online, you're not going to be able to find it," said Chandler.

Attorney General Ken Paxton took a stance. In a statement Friday, he said some prosecutors can choose to immediately pursue criminal prosecutions on abortions because the pre-Roe law was never repealed by the Texas legislature.

"There is no exception for rape or incest. Texas, unfortunately, leads the country when it comes to the strictest laws on women being able to make decisions over their own bodies," said State Senator Carol Alvarado.

The highest court has decided to no longer regulate abortion, meaning states like ours are free to come up with its rules.

"It's a moment that we in the pro-life movement have been working towards for 50 years since Roe was decided," said senior legislative associate at Texas Right For Life, Rebecca Parma. "Our view on this moment is that it's historic, but it's not the end of a story. It's just the end of a chapter."

The bottom line is a lot of conversations will still need to be had, like will there be consequences for women who decide to get care in another state.

All questions that loom on abortion regulation.

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