Last Thursday, five years after Wendy Davis attempted to subvert the will of Texans with her fruitless filibuster, Whole Woman’s Health Alliance (WWHA), an organization that runs multiple abortion businesses in Texas and other anti-Life organizations, filed a shockingly expansive lawsuit that seeks to dismantle the majority of long-standing Pro-Life laws in Texas. WWHA et al. filed the sweeping lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Western District of Texas.
The anti-Life plaintiffs have adopted an audacious “shotgun” legal strategy by targeting more than 20 Pro-Life policies in state law. The Texas Legislature enacted some of the challenged statutes nearly two decades ago and others as recently as the special session in 2017. This includes abortion facility regulations, verbal informed consent, A Woman’s Right to Know informed consent booklet, waiting periods, the Sonogram Law, restrictions on chemical abortions, parental involvement laws, and more.
The abortion industry has long sought to eradicate the Pro-Life fabric of the most populous Pro-Life state in the nation. This lawsuit appears to be their method for doing so, as the lawsuit has the propensity to completely abolish or restructure Pro-Life laws in Texas.
Historically, the abortion industry has selectively and pointedly targeted recently-passed Pro-Life provisions right before they take effect and are enforced by the state. This new “shotgun” approach, aiming at a plethora of Pro-Life restrictions and regulations, signals a change in strategy and represents a significant gamble for the abortion industry.
The lawsuit targets each individual Pro-Life provision directly, but also argues that the collective effect of the provisions is unconstitutional, because the policies together create an “undue burden” on a woman seeking an elective abortion. The anti-Life plaintiffs claim Pro-Life laws have proliferated in recent decades, creating “layered restrictions on top of layered restrictions.” Although Texas may have a legitimate state interest in passing and enforcing each Pro-Life law individually, the abortion industry is arguing in court that the laws should be struck down because each contributes to the collective “undue burden.”
WWHA et al. claims the Supreme Courts’ ruling in 2016, in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, altered abortion jurisprudence by implementing a new standard for lawsuits challenging Pro-Life laws. Two years ago, the court broke with past opinions while justifying striking down two provisions in the Texas Pro-Life House Bill 2. Before Hellerstedt, the “undue burden standard” was the predominate criterion established by the majority opinion in Planned Parenthood v. Casey in 1992. In that critical ruling, the Supreme Court asked whether Pro-Life laws in question raised an the “undue burden” for women seeking access to an elective abortion. The court upheld Pro-Life informed consent policies, waiting periods, and legislation requiring parental involvement for minors seeking abortions. However, the abortion industry now is challenging some of those very types of policies hoping the Supreme Court will agree that their ruling in Hellerstedt rewrote the rules for abortion jurisprudence.
Thus, with the alleged new standard and the cumulative effects of Pro-Life laws in Texas, the abortion industry clearly believes these 20 Texas Pro-Life laws are vulnerable, even while admitting the Supreme Court has previously ruled some of them constitutional. Moreover, Judge Lee Yeakel, the Federal District Court judge whom will be the first judge to hear the case, has been an ally and champion for the anti-Life movement, often ignoring precedent in ruling favorably for the abortion industry.
Notably absent from the list of challenged laws is the Preborn Pain Act, which prohibits elective abortion after 20-weeks because there is medical evidence that preborn children are capable of feeling pain by this age. Although understanding the true intentions of the abortion industry is impossible, the absence of a challenge of the Preborn Pain Act appears to reveal the abortion industry’s fear of litigating such a truth-revealing and legally-dynamic law.
Because of Texas’ record of passing dynamic Pro-Life laws like the Preborn Pain Act (2013) and the Dismemberment Abortion Ban (2017), Attorney General Ken Paxton has assembled a peerless skilled legal team, which will unapologetically defend Texas’ Pro-Life state interest in court. Texas Right to Life expects a laborious litigation process, as either side is likely to appeal beyond Judge Yeakel after the trial court hearings and ruling.
The abortion industry is fallaciously terming the omnibus lawsuit as “the People’s lawsuit.” In truth, the lawsuit is just another attempt to discard the will of the people of a Pro-Life Texas.