Anti-Abortion Protesters Celebrate Legislative Success During Capitol Rally
By Paula Levihn-Coon
About 4,000 anti-abortion protesters descended on the south lawn of the Texas Capitol Saturday for the annual Texas Rally for Life.
The rally marked the 49th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision that established a constitutional right to abortion. Speakers included Gov. Greg Abbott, state Rep. Giovanni Capriglione (R- Southlake) and Bishop Joe Vásquez of the Diocese of Austin.
“Last year I promised you that Texas would pass transformational measures to protect the unborn, and thanks to the groundswell of support from advocates just like you, we passed sweeping laws that do exactly that,” Abbott said.
Abbott was referring to Senate Bill 8, which bans abortions at six weeks of pregnancy or when fetal cardiac activity is detected, and enables private citizens to sue anyone who “aids or abets” abortions. In December, the U.S. Supreme Court allowed the law — one of the most restrictive anti-abortion measures in the nation — to stay in effect. Many in the crowd were optimistic that the U.S. Supreme Court would overturn Roe v. Wade in the coming months or even weeks, thanks to ex-President Donald Trump’s success in appointing conservative judges to both the U.S. Supreme Court and to lower federal courts.
“We’re all sitting here hopeful and optimistic that in just a few short months, Roe v. Wade will not see its 50th birthday,” said Capriglione, who referenced a measure he sponsored, House Bill 1280, which will outlaw almost all abortions in Texas if Roe is overturned.
Senate Bill 8 has already made it much harder for Texas women to access abortion care — which for almost half a century has been a constitutional right — Sarah Wheat, Chief External Affairs Officer for Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas, told Reporting Texas before the rally.
“For every Texan who is able to travel to Colorado (to get an abortion), there are other Texans who cannot. They are fearful to leave the state (because) they may not have the documentation (they need) that puts them at risk by traveling,” Wheat said. “Or they have young children. Most women seeking an abortion already have at least one child so they may not be able to secure childcare for their children to leave.”
Cindy Kmetz, a 60-year-old from Houston volunteers with the anti-abortion organization LifeFirst. The organization offers pregnancy health centers and holds vigils outside of Planned Parenthood offices.
“There are so many great options for women so they don’t have to get an abortion — including pregnancy care centers and counseling on how to be good mother,” Kmetz told Reporting Texas during the rally.
Austin residents Jeff and Lindsey Gilmore attended the rally with their three children. Jeff Gilmore said that he recognizes the financial burden of an unplanned pregnancy and that’s why he and his wife contribute to the St. John Paul II Life Center in Austin which helps pregnant women by giving them free toys, diapers and formula.
Both Jeff and Lindsay Gilmore are excited at the possibility of Roe being overturned. Jeff Gilmore added that he is “happy with what Texas is doing (regarding abortion).”