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Texas Supreme Court hears pro-abortion arguments to expand ‘health’ exceptions in pro-life laws

by | Dec 6, 2023

By Calvin Freiburger

AUSTIN, Texas— The Texas Supreme Court ushered in December by hearing oral arguments by the abortion lobby as to whether the exceptions in the Lone Star State’s strong pro-life laws should be made looser.

Texas currently has a heartbeat-based abortion ban that was allowed to take effect by the state and U.S. Supreme Courts thanks to its unique enforcement mechanism (citizen lawsuits rather than government prosecution), several months before the nation’s highest court overturned Roe v. Wade in June 2022, which has allowed the state to also enforce a full, direct abortion ban dating back to 1925 and a trigger law signed in 2021.

Under these laws, abortions may only be performed for a “life-threatening physical condition aggravated by, caused by, or arising from a pregnancy that, as certified by a physician, places the woman in danger of death or a serious risk of substantial impairment of a major bodily function unless an abortion is performed.” This has prompted a lawsuit from the pro-abortion Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR), which seeks to have the judiciary “clarify Texas’s abortion bans by creating a binding interpretation of the laws’ ‘medical emergency’ exception.”

The Texas Tribune reports that oral arguments began last week in Zurawski v. Texas. 

Justice Jimmy Blacklock observed that CRR’s case “very well could open the door far more widely than you’re acknowledging,” potentially forcing the state to allow abortions for as little as high blood pressure, which is a common pregnancy complication.

Texas Assistant Attorney General Beth Klusmann noted that some of the women on whose behalf CRR brought the suit “appear to have fallen within these exceptions but their doctors still said no,” which is “not the fault of the law.”

“What the legislature has done is chosen to value unborn life and prohibit abortion in all circumstances, unless that life is going to conflict with the life of the mother,” Klusmann argued. “The legislature has set the bar high, but there is nothing unconstitutional in their decision to do so.”

Texas Right to Life adds that a number of justices pressed CRR on its decision to challenge the state rather than the physicians who they say misinterpreted the law, further underscoring the misplaced nature of the lawsuit. 

“Pro-Life policies do not require the threat to be ‘imminent,’ only that the severe medical risk be foreseeable,” the group argued. By contrast, abortion activists want language giving abortionists autonomy as to what constitutes “medical necessity,” which “would create such a wide loophole that it would likely allow elective abortions.”

A ruling is expected sometime in June.

The Texas Department of Health & Human Services reported in January that just two months after Roe’s reversal, there were zero elective legal abortions and just three legal abortions committed due to reputed physical threats to a mother’s life — down from 67 elective abortions the month before, and 5,706 in August 2021. As detailed by LifeSiteNews in June, Texas births rose 4.7% in 2022.

Texas is one of fourteen states that currently ban all or most abortions, with available data so far indicating that pro-life laws made enforceable by Roe’s fall could effectively wipe out an estimated 200,000 or more abortions a year nationwide.

In response, abortion supporters pursue a variety of tactics to preserve abortion “access,” such as easy access to abortion pills, legal protection and financial support of interstate abortion travel, constructing new abortion facilities near borders shared by pro-life and pro-abortion states, making liberal states sanctuaries for those who want to evade or violate the laws of more pro-life neighbors, and embedding “rights” to abortion in state constitutions.

Meanwhile, President Joe Biden has called on Congress to send to his desk a federal law to “codify Roe v. Wade to protect every woman’s constitutional right to choose” abortion, such as the “Women’s Health Protection Act,” which would not only prohibit state-level abortion bans but make it impossible for states to enact any meaningful limits or regulations on abortion.

The 2024 elections will determine whether Democrats retain the White House and keep or gain enough seats in Congress to enact such legislation.

Editor’s note. This appeared at Life Site News and reposted with permission.

Categories: Judicial