Texas Teaches Perseverance in the Fight for Life from 1973 to Today

October 22, 2021

In the Biden administration's latest attack on the Texas Heartbeat Act (SB 8), the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) asked the U.S. Supreme Court to place a hold on the law until legal challenges have been heard. In addition to requesting the Supreme Court to vacate the Fifth Circuit's stay of the district court's preliminary injunction, the DOJ took the unusual step of filing a petition for writ of certiorari before judgment -- that is, the DOJ asked the Supreme Court to rule on the issues before the Fifth Circuit. In its response, the State of Texas said the Supreme Court should not vacate the Fifth Circuit's stay. But if the Supreme Court were to take the extraordinary step of deciding the substantive issue, Texas would ask that Roe and Casey be overturned.

With the Court gearing up to hear oral arguments in the Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization case (concerning Mississippi's 15-week abortion ban) on December 1, Texas has become the second state currently asking the Court to overturn Roe and Casey. On Thursday, Attorney General Ken Paxton said:

"The Court erred in recognizing the right to abortion in Roe and in continuing to preserve it in Casey. Properly understood, the Constitution does not protect a right to elective abortion, and any laws affecting abortion should be subject only to a rational-basis test. The heartbeat provisions in SB 8 reasonably further Texas's interest in protecting unborn life, which exists from the outset of pregnancy... If it reaches the merits, the Court should overturn Roe and Casey and hold that SB 8 does not therefore violate the Fourteenth Amendment."

Earlier today, the Supreme Court agreed to allow the law to remain in place for now and to hear oral arguments regarding SB 8 on November 1, but the question will be limited to whether the United States may "bring suit in federal court and obtain injunctive or declaratory relief against the State, state court judges, state court clerks, other state officials, or all private parties to prohibit S.B. 8 from being enforced."

In other words, the Court will not be addressing the constitutionality of Roe v. Wade - for that, America will have to wait for Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization. Instead, the Court will rule on whether the federal government has the authority to stop a law with the unique private citizen enforcement mechanism employed in SB 8.

Thankfully, the Lone Star State has proven through five decades of pro-life perseverance that backing down from the fight is not an option. Now, as the Dobbs case brings renewed hope that Roe could be overturned and jurisdiction over abortion legislation could be returned to the states, it is more important than ever that the nation follows in Texas' pro-life footsteps.

Prior to 1973, abortion in Texas was legal only to save the life of the mother. Norma McCorvey, otherwise known as "Jane Roe," desired to electively abort her third child after putting her first two up for adoption. At the urging of pro-abortion lawyers, McCorvey challenged the ban on abortion in Texas and took her complaint all the way to the Supreme Court. In his oral argument, District Attorney of Dallas County Henry Wade asserted that the unborn child's right to life surpassed the supposed right to privacy of the mother. Unfortunately, the Court did not agree and issued a decision that overturned state restrictions and made abortion on demand through all nine months of pregnancy the default nationwide.

The tragic Roe decision has been responsible for the deaths of more than 62 million babies. Texas has stood firm against this evil from the very start. It responded to abortion's legalization by establishing more than 230 pregnancy resource centers (PRCs) to provide an alternative for women considering abortion. Texas now has more PRCs than any other state in the nation -- and with the Texas Heartbeat Act going into effect in September, these resources are being put to good use. The legislation, which prohibits abortion after a fetal heartbeat is able to be detected (around six weeks gestation), is estimated to be saving about 150 lives each day. One pregnancy resource organization in Texas stated that it had seen a threefold increase each week in women seeking their assistance since the law went into effect.

The Texas Heartbeat Act was made possible by the coordinated efforts of legislators, judges, and a governor who recognized the human dignity of the unborn. Although this ideal team of public officials might not exist in every state, each election is an opportunity for citizens to take a stand and guide their state into following Texas' example.

On November 2, many key victories for the pro-life movement could be won. Sitting Democratic governors in Virginia and New Jersey could be exchanged for pro-lifers. In Pennsylvania, the Supreme Court seat of a current Republican is up for grabs and must be maintained by a justice who will protect the unborn. Next year, the state will also have the opportunity to replace pro-abortion extremist Tom Wolf with a governor who will protect all Pennsylvanians -- including those in the womb.

As the Dobbs case approaches the Supreme Court, with an outcome expected in 2022, and the increased pressure on the Court added by Texas today, it is more important than ever that pro-lifers hit the polls and elect people who will support pro-life laws. The day of reckoning for Roe is near, and the states must be as ready as Texas when it comes.