"This is an exciting time," she tells AFN. "It's a good step to make sure that we are truly protecting preborn children and not just relying on liberal local district attorneys and city officials to hold abortionists accountable if they break the law."
Before the Supreme Court ruled in June that abortion regulations would be established by the states, The Lonestar State was one of 13 that had laws or constitutional amendments in place to ban abortion if Roe v. Wade were ever overturned.
A Texas Right to Life press release explains that abortion became illegal immediately in June when the state's pre-Roe v. Wade statutes regained effect after the Supreme Court's ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization. Current pre-Roe laws, however, can only be enforced by local authorities with a punishment of two to five years in jail.
Now, thanks to the trigger law, in addition enhancing penalties to a felony, Schwartz says the attorney general has the authority to bring a $100,000 civil lawsuit against abortionists who break the law. They also face mandatory license revocation and criminal prosecution.
"That's an important step," she adds. "We know to truly protect life, we need all the tools in the toolkit that we possibly can to make sure that abortionists are not breaking the law."
Abortion supporters say the Human Life Protection Act is unfair, but Kyleen Wright of the Texans for Life Coalition reminds AFN that existing laws already heavily restricted abortion in Texas. And while Governor Greg Abbott (R) is on record as saying Texas is a pro-life state, pro-lifers are thankful for the extra protection for preborn children.
"We have the Heartbeat Act (H.B. 1515) prohibiting abortion after a heartbeat can be detected, and we have civil enforcement of that measure," Wright notes. "And while the original 1925 ban on abortion is being challenged in court, we have civil enforcement of that."
And Schwartz asserts that "this isn't the final step."
"In the next legislative session in 2023, it's important that we pursue policies to allow private citizens to also sue abortionists if they break the law, much like the Texas Heartbeat Act," she submits. "So, we are looking forward to the Texas trigger law taking effect and the future steps to come."
Texas is one of three states with trigger laws that are now in effect. The measures call for an almost total ban on abortions to go into effect within 30 days of the U.S. Supreme Court publication of its reversal of the Roe decision.
Idaho and Tennessee's trigger measures are also now law, and 10 other states passed trigger laws that were already in effect.