87th LegislatureState HouseState SenateBill to Ban Abortion if Roe v. Wade Overturned Filed in the Texas Legislature

Bills have been filed in the Texas House and Senate which would ban abortion in Texas if the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.
January 26, 2021
Last week, on the 48th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade, the “Human Life Protection Act” was filed by state Sen. Angela Paxton (R-Allen) in the Texas Senate and state Rep. Giovanni Capriglione (R-Keller) in the House.

Since the landmark decision, it is estimated that over 60 million unborn babies have been killed by abortion. 

If the bill, also known as a “trigger ban,” becomes law and the Supreme Court overturns all or part of Roe v. Wade, Texas would be positioned to ban abortions in the state. Ten other states have passed similar laws in recent years.

Under those conditions, the law would make abortion illegal, except when performed by a licensed physician who had determined the mother’s life is threatened by continuing the pregnancy. Additionally, any abortion that is allowed to protect the life of the mother must be performed in such a way as to give the unborn child the best chance of survival.

The ban comes with criminal penalties; violations would be considered first or second-degree felonies. A civil penalty of $100,000 per violation could also be imposed. 

The Texan Tumbler

Section 3 of the law states that the law takes effect 30 days after “the issuance of a United States Supreme Court judgment overruling, wholly or partly, Roe v. Wade…thereby allowing the states of the United States to prohibit abortion; (2) the issuance of any other United States Supreme Court decision that recognizes, wholly or partly, the authority of the states to prohibit abortion; or (3) adoption of an amendment to the United States Constitution that, wholly or partly, restores to the states the authority to prohibit abortion.”

“My life began as a very unexpected pregnancy, but my birth mother chose life for me, and so I got my chance at life,” Paxton told The Texan. “This experience has given me a deeply personal perspective on the value of human life and human dignity.” 

“This bill is one step toward addressing a very deep and complex situation that reaches to the very core of human dignity by creating a firewall of protection from the exploitation of abortion. No baby deserves an abortion. Women deserve better solutions than abortion. We can do better in Texas, and together we will,” the senator emphasized.

Coauthoring Senate Bill (SB) 391 are Sens. Paul Bettencourt (R-Houston), Dawn Buckingham (R-Abilene), Donna Campbell (R-New Braunfels), Kelly Hancock (R-North Richland Hills), Eddie Lucio Jr. (D-Harlingen), Charles Perry (R-Lubbock), and Drew Springer (R-Muenster). 

The Texas Catholic Conference of Bishops endorsed the bill, saying it “will allow the most efficient and effective method of reducing abortions in Texas as soon as the Supreme Court allows.”  

“These vulnerable Texans deserve special attention by our Legislature, and we encourage our representatives and senators to bring these bills to the governor’s desk,” Jennifer Allmon, the group’s executive director, said in a press release.

Texas Right to Life (TRTL) doesn’t consider the Human Life Protection Act one of its legislative priorities, according to Legislative Director John Seago.

“We definitely appreciate the goal to ban all elective abortions, and we look forward to a day when in Texas abortions are prohibited,” he told The Texan.

However, he doesn’t think this bill is the best way to get there due to technical and strategic concerns.

He is concerned that the trigger language in SB 391 will set up another legal battle where abortion providers and others argue that the language in the bill wasn’t specifically triggered by whatever ruling the Supreme Court makes. 

Furthermore, Seago argues that SB 391 doesn’t save any lives today because it just waits for the Supreme Court to act. “Texas is uniquely positioned to lead the court battle to overturn Roe v. Wade.”

When determining what bills to support, TRTL considers three criteria: (1) does it save lives, (2) does it help move the cultural conversation, and (3) does it set up a legal victory?  

Americans United for Life has encouraged model legislation similar to the bill around the country. 

“What is really important is handing the authority back to the people by way of their elected representatives in the states,” Katie Glenn, government affairs counsel for Americans United for Life, told The Texan. 

She explained that many people think if Roe v. Wade is overturned, that abortion will be illegal, but said that is not the case.  

“One of the things we’ve seen in the last two years is lawmakers really thinking about the laws they want on the books in case Roe is overturned,” Glenn said.

In 2017, 55,440 abortions were provided in Texas, a decline of about 3 percent since 2014, according to the Guttmacher Institute.  

Capriglione did not respond to a request for comment by the time of publication.


Disclosure: Unlike almost every other media outlet, The Texan is not beholden to any special interests, does not apply for any type of state or federal funding, and relies exclusively on its readers for financial support. If you’d like to become one of the people we’re financially accountable to, click here to subscribe.

Get “KB's Hot Take”

A free bi-weekly commentary on current events by Konni Burton.

Kim Roberts

Kim Roberts is a regional reporter for the Texan in the DFW metroplex area where she has lived for over twenty years. She has a Juris Doctor from Baylor University Law School and a Bachelor's in government from Angelo State University. In her free time, Kim home schools her daughter and coaches high school extemporaneous speaking and apologetics. She has been happily married to her husband for 23 years, has three wonderful children, and two dogs.