Exposed: Texas lawmakers test new restrictions straight out of the anti-abortion playbook
The majority of Texans support legal abortion, but our lawmakers aren’t getting their priorities from the people. Instead, they’re doing the bidding of national anti-abortion organizations like NRLC, which released model legislation to undermine abortion access in the post-Dobbs era. Their priorities — like criminal enforcement, cutting off access to medication abortion, and choking off support for people who travel out of state for care — determine what anti-abortion lawmakers at the Capitol prioritize. It’s the exact same playbook being used to attack LGBTQ+ rights, too, and it’s part of their ideological agenda to undermine bodily autonomy and dignity for all Texans.
Who is the NRLC? National Right to Life and its state affiliate, Texas Right to Life, are anti-abortion organizations that campaign for and against politicians, write and lobby for anti-abortion legislation, and spread anti-choice propaganda and misinformation. Texas Right to Life made headlines for creating a website where people could report on their neighbors aiding abortions. In the last decade, it has spent over $8 million on anti-abortion campaigns and lobbying (3).
The Anti-Abortion Playbook:
PROSECUTE PEOPLE FOR ABORTION CARE
Criminalization is how bans are upheld. In the wake of the Dobbs decision to erase constitutional protections for abortion, District Attorneys in some of Texas’s largest counties stood up to anti-abortion extremists and pledged to protect Texans from criminal prosecution for abortion care. Anti-abortion lawmakers want to upend the state’s legal system and usurp local control with a slew of bills to attack district attorneys and put the power to prosecute Texans for abortion care in the hands of the legislature.
Removes the exceptions that shield a pregnant person from prosecution, making self-managed abortion a crime eligible for the death penalty.
Target progressive DAs who refuse to prosecute abortion care as a crime by imposing civil fines.
Allows a handful of members chosen by the legislature to remove elected officials on the basis of “misconduct” or “incompetence” — another bill designed to target progressive DAs.
Allows Texas residents to sue their DAs if they don’t prosecute abortion care.
District Attorneys have significant discretion to decide what cases to prioritize and pursue. Criminal justice reform advocates have successfully lobbied DAs to reduce the harms of unjust laws. Now, abortion advocates can use this same tactic to protect the communities most likely to be targeted by abortion criminalization — Black people, people of color, low-income communities, and LGBTQ+ folks.
Undermine support for Texans traveling out of state for abortion care
Texas lawmakers banned abortion in the state. Now, they’re trying new tactics to intimidate Texans who travel for care by attacking support funds, cities, and employers who help them. Make no mistake: Anti-abortion extremists won’t stop at banning abortion in some states. They’re determined to cut off access for everyone, everywhere.
A combination of attacks on free speech that would investigate and prosecute abortion funds and their donors, censor websites with information about abortion care, and create civil liability for abortion pills similar to the abortion bounty bill passed last session.
Targets cities and counties that provide logistical support for people seeking abortion care.
Targets businesses that support employees seeking abortion care, including employers who provide healthcare vouchers or paid sick leave for traveling out of state for abortion care.
Anti-abortion extremists will stop at nothing to attack abortion access — including attacking free speech. HB 2690 is especially radical. It would direct district attorneys to investigate and prosecute abortion support funds and their donors for helping people who travel out of state for care, censor and shut down websites with information about accessing abortion care and expand the abortion bounty law out of state for medication abortion.
Cut off access to medication abortion and contraception
Medication abortion is safe, effective, and common — more than half of abortions in the US are performed with medication. And many people in states with abortion restrictions have turned to medication to self-manage their own abortions — fending off extremists’ attempts to cut off access to care. Cutting off access to safe, effective abortion medication is the next priority in the anti-abortion playbook with their ultimate goal to ban abortion nationwide.
Currently, a new court case in Texas is threatening abortion care nationwide. An anti-abortion organization is suing to stop the distribution of the medication mifepristone — even in states with abortion protections. Mifepristone is used in combination with misoprostol to end a pregnancy, and more than half of abortions in the US are medication abortions.
Are you tired of Texas lawmakers following the bidding of national anti-abortion extremists instead of listening to you?
88th Legislative Session: Abortion Bill Tracker
- HB 2709 (Slaton): Criminalizes pregnant individuals for pregnancy outcomes
- HB 4549 (Toth) and SB 1195 (Hughes): Requires the Attorney General to prosecute abortion crimes if a District Attorney refuses to do so
- HB 4026 (Schofield): Creates a special prosecutor for abortion crimes
- HB 1350 (Cook) and SB 378 (Parker): Imposes civil fines for district, criminal district, and county attorneys who do are found to “limit the enforcement of a criminal offense”, potential for removal from office
- SB 404 (King): Allows a handful of members chosen by the legislature to remove elected officials on basis of “misconduct” or “incompetence”
- SB 648 (Middleton): Allows Texas residents to sue their DA if they don’t prosecute abortions
- HB 3850 (Slaton): Clarifies that abortion bans also apply to people who do not identify as women but may become pregnant
- HB 2690 (Toth): A combination of attacks on free speech that would investigate and prosecute abortion funds and their donors, censor websites with information about abortion care, and create civil liability for abortion pills similar to the abortion bounty bill passed last session
- HB 4876 (Hefner): Allows wrongful death suits to be filed against people who help someone obtain abortion pills and manufacturers of abortion pills regardless of whether the abortion happens in another state; allows claims of no less than $5,000,000
- HB 61 (Nobel): Prohibits local governments from giving aid in procuring an abortion
- HB 787 (Patterson): Prohibits tax incentives for businesses who give logistical support for abortion
- HB 1280 (Oliverson) and SB 953 (Perry): Prohibits benefits from writing off healthcare costs if they provide abortion vouchers or paid sick leave to procure an abortion
- SB 511 (Hall): Prevents municipalities from using funds to assist or refer abortion, removes eligibility of small businesses that provide abortion assistance from various state government business funds
- HB 2813 (Tinderholt): Governing members of companies who help an employee procure an abortion are in violation of their fiduciary duty to company
- SB 1440 (Springer): Prohibits credit card companies from processing transactions for medication abortion
- HB 4049 (Frank) and SB 24 (Kolkhorst): Creates a funding stream for anti-abortion centers through the Health and Human Services Commission
- HB 4089 (Oliverson): Creates a commission to oversee the Alternatives to Abortion program, which funds anti-abortion centers
- HB 4755 (Leach): Directs the Alternatives to Abortion program to provide access to patient navigators and nursing facility diversions
- HB 5249 (Klick) and SB 2378 (Campbell): Prohibits any entity that provides abortions from receiving state funding, including hospitals and pharmacies; prohibits providers from receiving training on abortion care
- HB 522 (Cain): Makes anniversary of Dobbs decision a state holiday
- SB 314 (Hall): Medical and food products must label products that contain, derive from, or are researched through the use of human fetal tissue
- SB 959 (Campbell): Charter schools may not contract with abortion providers
- SB 411 (Paxton): Requires colleges to provide incorrect materials regarding abortion to students
- HB 4715 (Vasut) Requires child support payments be calculated by earliest possible date of conception