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What Do Court Statutes Say About The Fate Of Texas Abortion Legislation?

Ryan Poppe
TPR News

As abortion legislation nears Gov. Rick Perry's desk, opponents are now looking at ways to combat the measures once they are signed into law. Attorneys in the Texas House have opposing legal interpretations of House Bill 2, the abortion bill that passed in the Texas House today.

Several times during the House’s debate of the omnibus abortion bill, lawmakers like Rep. Gene Wu, D-Houston, who is a trial lawyer, pointed to flaws in the bill that he thinks will be ruled unconstitutional by the federal court system.

"If you actually read the case law, if you read Casey (Planned Parenthood v. Casey), if you read Gonzales (Gonzales v. Carhart), if you read Roe v. Wade it’s very clear, it’s about what you actually do, it’s not about what you say and what your intent is, it’s about the practical effects of the law," Wu said.

Wu said if courts find that any part of a law infringes upon a women's right to have an abortion it will be struck down, much in the same way he said the courts blocked a Wisconsin abortion bill this week. 

Rep. Jason Villalba, R-Dallas, who is also an attorney, has a different take on the bill's legality.

"Remember, courts are different all over the country so what happens in that state does not dictate what happens in Texas," Villalba said.

Villalba said the abortion measure still provides women access to a safe abortion with the high standard of an ambulatory surgical center, which may or may not be within the state's right to regulate.

"The Constitution provides for the right for a woman to terminate her pregnancy within certain periods, but we also recognize that the Constitution provides -- or the courts have ruled -- that states may regulate this," Villalba said.

Wu pointed out how Republicans are expecting the court to throw out part of the bill because of a clause that allows a portion of the bill to remain even if other parts are ruled unconstitutional.