Last week, the Supreme Court of Texas heard oral arguments in Texas v. Zurawski (23-0269), a challenge brought by the New York-based Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR) to Texas’ laws that protect unborn babies from abortion.
At issue is whether the exceptions defined in the pre-Roe law, the Texas Heartbeat Act, and the Human Life Protection Act — that do allow abortions in rare cases when the pregnancy endangers the mother’s life but do not allow abortions when the baby has a fatal illness — violate the Texas Constitution.
Texas’ current pro-life laws, including the Human Life Protection Act, have caused reported elective abortions in Texas to plummet from thousands per month to zero, according to reports from the Texas Health and Human Services Commission. At the same time, from August 2022 through June 2023, there were 44 abortions performed under the exceptions. No doctor has been prosecuted or disciplined related to any of these cases.
Representing several women who experienced rare, life-threatening pregnancies or were pregnant with unborn babies diagnosed with terminal illnesses, the CRR asked the Court to expand the exceptions far beyond the carefully written language passed by the Texas Legislature in 2021 in the Heartbeat Act and the Human Life Protection Act, essentially opening the door to abortion-on-demand.
At a news conference after the hearing, Texas Alliance for Life’s Communications Director, Amy O’Donnell, gave a statement that said, “Unfortunately, the Center for Reproductive Rights is seeking to expand abortion access in Texas at the expense of unborn babies’ lives while using the signatures and stories of women who tragically lost their babies due to either doctors being confused about the clearness of the medical exception language in Texas’ pro-life laws or due to fatal diagnoses for the unborn babies.”
Deirdre Cooper, a public policy analyst for Texas Alliance for Life, gave a statement about her son Bosco, who died before birth from Trisomy 18, known as Edwards syndrome. “Carrying Bosco in my womb was the greatest honor of my life,” she said. “For four months, I had the privilege of sharing his story with anyone who asked about my pregnancy. Each day, I woke up thanking God that Bosco was still alive. We had been granted one more day with him — what a blessing! It also allowed us to plan his funeral and prepare our children for his impending death.”
Texas Alliance for Life submitted an amicus curiae (friend-of-the-court) brief on behalf of 92 members of the Texas Legislature, making the point that nowhere in the state constitution is there a right to abortion.
The Court is expected to issue a decision in the coming months.