Texas ‘trigger law’ takes effect

Texas "trigger law" takes effect Aug. 25. Grace Everett | Photo Editor

By Camille Cox | Staff Writer

The Texas “trigger law,” set to make abortion illegal in the state 30 days after the U.S. Supreme Court’s judgment overturning Roe v. Wade, will take effect Thursday. This law is called The Texas Human Life Protection Act.

Following the Supreme Court’s filed judgment on Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the Texas trigger law prohibits almost all abortions and sets out civil, criminal and professional penalties for abortion providers who violate the law.

The Texas Heartbeat Act, which took effect in September 2021, prohibited abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected, typically around six weeks of pregnancy. With the trigger law, abortions will only be permitted if the mother has “a life-threatening physical condition aggravated by, caused by, or arising from a pregnancy.” However, the trigger law notes that “the term ‘abortion’ in Texas law does not apply when these acts are done to ‘(A) save the life or preserve the health of an unborn child; (B) remove a dead, unborn child whose death was caused by spontaneous abortion; or (C) remove an ectopic pregnancy.”

Dr. Patrick Flavin, Bob Bullock professor of political science, said the trigger law will create criminal and civil penalties for practitioners and health care providers who perform abortions.

“This trigger law will go even further and outlaw abortion in all cases except for the physical health of the mother,” Flavin said. “The way it will be enforced is those who provided the procedure, so doctors or health clinics, will be prosecuted.”

Within hours of the Supreme Court’s announcement, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said, “abortion is illegal here.” In his statement issued shortly after the June 24 opinion, he said he agrees with the decision and will do everything in his power “to protect the unborn and uphold the state laws duly enacted by the Texas Legislature.”

Later, in a statement issued in July, Paxton said a person who commits the act of an abortion can be fined upward of $100,000 for each violation, charged with first-degree or second-degree felonies and lose their medical license. In the statement, Paxton said women who receive abortions cannot be penalized.

Flavin said looking forward, the next debate will be if health care providers, groups or clinics can financially support women to travel out of state to receive abortions.

“As of now, it seems like that would be permissible because people have the right to travel from state to state freely, but that seems to be the next legal fight we will be anticipating to see in the next couple months here,” Flavin said.

Orange County, Calif., junior Megan Keefe said the effects of the landmark case being overturned differ from her hometown to her college town.

“I grew up in Orange County, and in California, personal liberties and rights are much more celebrated there than here in Texas,” Keefe said. “It’s so hard to imagine not having the liberty over my own body, especially when the right in my hometown is protected. But here, it’s illegal.”

San Antonio junior and Bears for Life president Caroline Carney said she felt excited when she learned that Roe v. Wade had been overturned.

“This was a very exciting moment for us,” Carney said. “We are excited to continue as a club. We are taking a bit of a new direction this semester as we focus more on getting our students to be able to volunteer directly in the community themselves. So we will still be doing a lot of activism and volunteering — just a little lighter on more of the learning and information for our club members — so we will have a more modern approach.”