Maybe We Should Mess With Texas
The phrase "Don't Mess with Texas" may have started as an anti-littering campaign in the 1980s, but since its introduction, Texans have quickly adopted the phrase when defending their state's controversial political decisions. In June of 2022, the Supreme Court decided to overturn Roe v. Wade, the legislation that made abortion legal nationwide. This decision allowed politically conservative states, such as Texas, to enforce their legislation around abortion.
Texas, a state full of conservative, evangelistic ideals, quickly put House Bill 1280 into effect after Roe v. Wade was overturned. This bill, known as a trigger law, criminalized abortion in new, extreme ways. According to this bill, doctors who perform abortions can be charged with a felony with the possibility of life in prison. Additionally, the law allows the attorney general to seek a civil penalty of at least $100,00, in addition to attorney's fees. The history of this bill is long as Texas has notoriously been anti-abortion. Specifically, this bill is preceded by Senate Bill 8, also known as the Texas Heartbeat Act. This act prevented abortions from occurring if the pregnancy had progressed past six weeks. Using Christianity as a basis for this legislation, Governor Greg Abbott supported the bill by saying "Our creator endowed us with the right to life and yet millions of children lose their right to life every year because of abortion." This quote showcases Texas lawmakers' attitudes toward abortion. It was these views that led to the creation of HB 1280.
Since the bill's passing, many abortion clinics have stopped providing abortions for fear of prosecution. Additionally, the bill specifies that the patient receiving an abortion cannot be prosecuted, leaving providers at risk. While the wording of the legislation affects how prosecutors will try these cases, the bill's impact has affected all Texans. Pro-choice activists rallied against this bill by helping those in need of an abortion cross state lines to access clinics in neighboring states, despite the possibility of being charged with aiding and abetting an abortion under Senate Bill 8. This legislation allows private citizens to sue those they believe to be receiving or assisting with abortions. As pro-choice supporters mourn the loss of human rights, pro-life activists are celebrating this 'win for life.' Groups like Texas Alliance for Life encouraged pro-life supporters to write to Greg Abbott to thank him for his efforts towards legalizing HB1280, or as pro-lifers call it, The Human Protection Act.
Texans are divided on the issue of abortion and will be for the foreseeable future until the impact of HB 1280 is known. Despite the uncertainty, one thing is clear: prosecutors, courts, and anyone with a uterus will be forever affected. As a native Texan, I agree that Texas should not be messed with when it comes to food, country music, or football. However, maybe it is time to mess with Texas in a way that will reflect the needs of its most endangered populations. If not, then it is high time that Texas was messed with.