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Texas Democratic lawmakers discuss ways they plan to mitigate impacts from abortion ban

The group of about a dozen lawmakers held a press conference on the steps of the Texas Capitol on Monday, just days after Roe v. Wade was overturned.

AUSTIN, Texas — Members of the Texas Women’s Health Caucus, the House Democratic Caucus and the Texas Legislative Black Caucus held a press conference on Monday following the overturning of Roe v. Wade, a move that will ban abortion in Texas.

“I, and the rest of the Women’s Health Caucus, will be laser-focused on ensuring Texans the resources they need to survive forced parenthood,” said Rep. Donna Howard (D-Travis County).

Howard leads the Texas Women’s Health Caucus. She and her colleagues say the abortion law that will go into place in Texas only allows exceptions for women whose lives are threatened by their pregnancies. They hope to expand those exceptions when the Legislature meets again in January.

“Make an exception for rape and incest,” said Howard. “Don't force adolescent girls to carry full-term a pregnancy from someone who molested them in their own little teeny kid bodies. That is cruel.”

Texas is one of 13 states with trigger laws already in place, which means once a judgement is made by the court in the coming weeks, following the opinion from Friday, the Texas abortion ban will go into effect in 30 days.

RELATED: Local efforts to decriminalize abortion in Texas likely won’t help clinics stay open

“Under House Bill 1280, if a physician performs an abortion for any reason besides there being an extreme risk to the mother’s life, they risk being charged with a first-degree felony, facing life in prison,” said Rep. Julie Johnson (D-Dallas).

Some of these democratic leaders said that lawmakers on the federal level should have protected these rights by codifying abortion rights into federal law.

“Now, I will have to say we've had almost a half century, and too many of us probably took things for granted and always thought the courts would be there to back us up, as they have been many times. That's not the case now,” said Howard. 

But since states are now in control, these Democratic lawmakers have a lot of goals once January rolls around and the legislative session starts. If they can’t get more abortion access for women in Texas, they say they want to focus on creating more resources and options for women.

These Democrats plan to work on expanding health care access and insurance for women and children, further sex education for teens and making contraception easier to access.

“I join my colleagues in doing, promising to do everything we can to mitigate the impact this decision, as well as trying to reverse it,” said Rep. Erin Zwiener (D-Hays County).

Democratic lawmakers who were at the press conference say despite challenges, they are set on finding ways to lessen the impacts of Roe v. Wade being overturned.

“Though many of us are grieving the assault of this on our autonomy and equality, we cannot and will not allow this to be the end,” said Howard. “We will continue our pursuit of reproductive justice and we will persist.”

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