“I’m going to make sure that we work with the people of Texas on this,” O’Rourke told The Texan. “[Make sure] that we work with the state legislature and that ultimately, we do what I think all of us agree on, and what most of us in Texas agrees on, is that this is a decision for a woman to make.”
O’Rourke gathered with other Texas Democrats — including 2014 gubernatorial candidate and former state Sen. Wendy Davis, state Sen. Sarah Eckhardt (D-Austin), and state Rep. Gina Hinojosa (D-Austin) — to condemn the leaked Supreme Court opinion that indicates a majority of the court will opt to overturn Roe v. Wade.
Should it come to fruition, the reversal of Roe would send the issue of abortion policy back to the states. Last year, the Texas legislature passed an abortion trigger ban — which becomes effective 30 days after a Supreme Court opinion reversing Roe is issued. The leaked opinion is only a draft, and the final ruling could come anytime between now and when the court recesses for the summer.
O’Rourke criticized Governor Greg Abbott for signing the trigger ban and the Texas Heartbeat Act that bans abortion after a fetal heartbeat is detected, but which tasks citizens with enforcement through civil action lawsuits against anyone who aids or abets an abortion except for the mother.
Abbott’s only comments on the leaked opinion were that the court should issue the opinion quickly and that the person responsible for the leak should be held to account.
“This is about controlling the lives of women in Texas,” O’Rourke said, referencing the Republican-passed state laws. “The only way to change that is to take power and give it back to the people of Texas.”
A representative of Planned Parenthood’s Texas branch said at the gathering that Colorado Planned Parenthoods saw abortions there for Texas women increased “1,000 percent” after the Heartbeat Act went into effect.
Not all Democrats agree entirely on the question of abortion, and that disagreement is especially prevalent in the primary runoff for Texas’ 28th Congressional District. Incumbent Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-TX-28), who opposes the overturn of Roe but calls himself pro-life, faces progressive challenger Jessica Cisneros.
Asked about that race, Beto O’Rourke declined to intercede but said that “This week has made the consequences more clear than they’ve ever been.”
“I trust the people of Texas to make the right decision.”
A recent poll by the University of Texas showed voters’ opinions on abortion vary. While 39 percent believe abortion should always be available to the woman as a matter of personal choice, 43 percent believe abortion should either be prohibited entirely or only allowed in the case of rape, incest, or for the life of the mother.
Another 11 percent believe abortion should be available for more than just those exceptions, except only after “the need for an abortion has been clearly established.”
On Roe, 54 percent of those polled believe the status quo should remain intact.
O’Rourke jumped into the gubernatorial race back in November for his third attempt at running for office in as many cycles.
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Brad Johnson is a senior reporter for The Texan and an Ohio native who graduated from the University of Cincinnati in 2017. He is an avid sports fan who most enjoys watching his favorite teams continue their title drought throughout his cognizant lifetime. In his free time, you may find Brad quoting Monty Python productions and trying to calculate the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow.