IssuesTexas Democrats Propose ‘Legally Viable’ Plan to Circumvent Texas Abortion Laws

Currently, the performance of an abortion or administration of an abortifacient drug is punishable by two to five years of jail in Texas.
July 19, 2022
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At the Texas Democratic Party convention in Dallas this weekend, a group of officials gathered to present a plan to circumvent abortion laws in Texas and elsewhere.

The letter proposes five strategies that the officials believe can work under existing law, even now that the U.S. Supreme Court has determined that the Constitution does not confer a right to abortion.

“These are legally viable strategies that we encourage the Administration to take immediately given the emergency that our community is facing, even though right-wing extremists and state officials will try to stop the Administration’s efforts,” the letter reads.

The five strategies the Democrats propose in the letter are declaring a public health emergency, supporting abortion funds, creating a federal program for abortion providers, invoking federal supremacy over state law, and protecting abortion funds from legal action.

Currently, the Hyde Amendment prohibits the government from spending federal money on abortions. The Texas officials believe the White House can create a federal program for abortion providers to dispense abortion drugs without running afoul of the Hyde Amendment if the program is funded by private donations.

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At the end of the letter, the officials and activists acknowledge that executive action cannot achieve the same comprehensive results as a congressional bill.

“We know no strategy can fully substitute for a constitutional amendment or Congressional action codifying abortion rights into federal law. We know how critical the upcoming elections will be for codifying these rights,” the letter reads.

“But between now and the codification of the legal right to abortion care, we must do everything we can to take care of our communities who have lost freedom over their own bodies and health care decisions.”

Previously, the Biden administration issued guidance that threatened health care providers with the loss of federal funds for not performing abortions to stabilize “emergency medical conditions” as defined by a federal law. Although Texas law allows procedures meant to save the mother’s life that result in fetal death, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton sued the administration over the new guidance, calling it overbroad and unconstitutionally issued.

Currently, the performance of an abortion or administration of an abortifacient drug is punishable by two to five years of jail in Texas. Once the Human Life Protection Act takes effect, violators will face longer jail time, civil penalties of at least $100,000, and loss of medical license.

No Texas abortion law authorizes penalties against the mother that seeks or obtains an abortion. Every Texas abortion law allows procedures meant to end ectopic pregnancies or evacuate miscarriages.

Former state senator Wendy Davis called the bans a danger to the health of women.

“Each day that the women of Texas are denied access to bodily autonomy represents a betrayal of our collective obligation to them and a danger to their health and well-being. They deserve the most aggressive, strategic fight possible and to know that we will use every tool at our disposal in service to their right to make decisions about their own bodies,” Davis said.

“This is a fight for a woman’s fundamental right to live a full and equal life, plain and simple.”

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Isaiah Mitchell

Isaiah Mitchell is a reporter for The Texan, a Texas native, and a huge Allman Brothers fan. He graduated cum laude from Trinity University in 2020 with a degree in English. Isaiah loves playing music and football with his family.