Reaction strong after U.S. Supreme Court strikes down Roe

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Jun. 25—Reaction to Friday's Supreme Court decision that ends nearly a half a century of constitutional protections for abortion came swiftly across Hunt County and the rest of Texas.

Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Corney Barrett voted to overturn the landmark ruling known as Roe v. Wade. Chief Justice John Roberts did not favor Roe's demise but joined the majority in its decision. The ruling was opposed by the court's three liberal justices, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan.

Texas officials on Friday were sorting out just what the U.S. Supreme Court ruling will mean for women in the state. The state has a trigger law banning all abortions that goes into effect in 30 days, but others argued that pre-Roe v. Wade laws that are still on the books could mean abortion is banned immediately.

The High Court's ruling essentially overturns the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that established a federal right to abortion. Instead, justices said that no such right explicitly appears in the U.S. Constitution and therefore is not explicitly protected. The decision stayed in line with the opinion that was leaked in early May.

"The Constitution does not confer a right to abortion; Roe and Casey are overruled; and the authority to regulate abortion is returned to the people and their elected representatives," the opinion read.

Texas has been at the forefront of abortion challenges in recent years, most notably with a couple of laws passed last year.

The most prominent was the Heartbeat Act, also referred to as Senate Bill 8, which went into effect Sept. 1. The law bans abortions after cardiac activity is detected, usually around six weeks of pregnancy. It also enables private citizens to sue anyone who performs an abortion or helps anyone receive one. The enforcement mechanisms were challenged before the U.S. Supreme Court, but justices ruled to uphold most of the law, prompting other states such as Idaho and Oklahoma to pass similar laws.

A second piece of legislation passed in Texas last year made it a felony to provide abortion-inducing medication after seven weeks of pregnancy. It also required medication to be dispensed by a doctor in person, making it a crime to send pills via mail.

But Friday's ruling will allow Texas to restrict abortion access completely, due to the state's trigger law that passed last summer.

In 30 days, all abortions — including in instances of rape or incest — will become illegal in Texas. The law also makes it a felony crime for doctors to perform the procedure. Doing so is punishable by life in prison and a $100,000 fine.

Some pro-life advocates argue that abortion restrictions will be enacted immediately, as the state has pre-Roe laws still on the books. Those laws state that it is a crime to perform an abortion or "furnish the means for procuring an abortion," except in the instance of saving the life of the mother.

While legal challenges are almost certain, some Texas pro-choice advocates argue that once the U.S. Supreme Court enacted Roe, any past laws prior were made null and void.

However, Rebecca Parma, senior legislative associate with Texas Right to Life, said one of the reasons her organization did not push for the trigger law last legislative session was because it knew pre-Roe laws were on the books, but should the pre-Roe laws be considered unenforceable, the trigger law would take their place.

"The idea behind (the trigger law) was just to reaffirm and clarify that there's no mistaking that in Texas when Roe v. Wade is overturned, we want abortion prohibited in our state," Parma said.

The 213-page Supreme Court decision maintains that the Constitution does not make express reference to the right to an abortion. The court also stated that the right to obtain an abortion is not rooted in the nation's history and traditions, and therefore it is not a component of "ordered liberty."

"In interpreting what is meant by 'liberty,' the court must guard against the natural human tendency to confuse what the Fourteenth Amendment protects with the Court's own ardent views about the liberty that Americans should enjoy," it read. "For this reason, the court has been 'reluctant' to recognize rights that are not mentioned in the Constitution."

Alito concluded that the right to an abortion is not part of a broader entrenched right that is supported by other precedents, and an attempt to justify abortion through appeals to a broader right to autonomy proved to be "too much."

In this ruling, SCOTUS returned the decision of abortion rights back to the states

"Roe was egregiously wrong from the start. Its reasoning was exceptionally weak, and the decision has had damaging consequences," Alito wrote.

Comments left on the Herald-Banner's Facebook page reveal divided views on the Supreme Court's action.

"A woman has a right to her body. A baby has the right to life. The decision today grants life to the unprotected. It is a good decision," posted Cotton Norris.

LeighAnn Hosking stated: "This will not stop abortions. It will, however, cause the death of women who will not receive proper medical care."

Posted Tiffany White: "We all have the right to life, whatever that life might be. Today was a huge win. The fight is not over at protecting the voices of the innocent, but today is a day to celebrate that we are one step closer! Today we celebrate the babies who now have a chance."

Cassie Kelley offered a different view. "Kids are getting slaughtered at schools and babies are starving because of a formula shortage and our government is worried about the ones not born yet! Their priority is not life."

Said Lauren Hudgeons: "For many, this is such an answer to prayer! For those who find themselves with an unplanned or unwanted pregnancy, Hunt County has resources for you. The Raffa Clinic offers free ultrasounds, support, parenting classes, and adoption referrals."

Derek Price suggested the court's ruling is in essense a religious statement. "It's a great day for people who think America is a theocracy."

Mitzi Money had this take: "One of our inalienable rights (is) protected ... LIFE. Now, work to do to get pro-life legislation passed in all 50 states."

Colby Reeves pointed to the election of former President Donald Trump for Friday's decision. "Finally a step in the right direction. Thank you God for using Trump to put people who have a heart that isn't evil on the Supreme Court to overturn this terrible law that has murdered millions of human babies."

Amy Royall said, "Until you walk in the feet of a woman faced with the decision you don't have a clue."

State Rep. Bryan Slaton, R-Royse City, hailed the news.

"Today, prayers have been answered, and I commend the Supreme Court for standing strong to affirm the sanctity of human life. For decades we have fought and prayed for this day."

Slaton added that Texas has prioritized supporting women's healthcare and expectant mothers in need to give them the necessary resources. He supported laws that extended Medicaid health care coverage to six months post-partum, appropriated $345 million for women's health programs, and invested more than $100 million toward our Alternatives to Abortion program.

Gov. Greg Abbott said the U.S. Supreme Court made the right decision. "Texas will always fight for the innocent unborn, and I will continue working with the Texas legislature and all Texans to save every child from the ravages of abortion and help our expectant mothers in need."

Beto O'Rourke, the Democratic nominee for governor vowed in a Tweet to "always fight for a woman's freedom to make her own decisions about her own body, health care, and future." He later added: "We will overcome this decision in Texas by winning political power."

The ACLU of Texas called the decision a "shameful ruling," while Texas Democratic Party Co-Executive Director Hannah Roe Beck said the Supreme Court decision has made Texas "exponentially more dangerous with the activation of this dystopian and extremist law."

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton vowed that abortion is and will remain illegal in Texas. "I look forward to defending the pro-life laws of Texas and the lives of all unborn children moving forward."