Texas AG warns criminal prosecutions will begin for those who violate new abortion prohibitions

In response to the SCOTUS overturning of Roe v. Wade, Texas AG Ken Paxton warned criminal prosecutions could immediately begin for those who violate the abortion prohibitions.

“Although these statutes were unenforceable while Roe was on the books, they are still Texas law,” Paxton wrote. “Under these pre-Roe statutes, abortion providers could be criminally liable for providing abortions starting today.”

Planned Parenthood of Texas told CBS19 they have paused all abortions.

Paxton wrote:

For nearly half a century, Americans have lived under a legally incorrect and
morally bankrupt court decision that created, out of thin air, a constitutional “right” to abortion. Roe v. Wade was an act of raw, partisan political will of unelected judges, and it had no basis in the text of the U.S. Constitution then or now. Today we celebrate Roe’s reversal, mindful that nothing can bring back the millions of lives lost since the Supreme Court federalized abortion policy and prohibited States from fully protecting their most vulnerable citizens. Thankfully, the current Court has finally
acted to overturn this egregious act of unconstitutional judicial activism.

Texans want to know what to expect now that Roe is overturned. The answer is that without further action by the Texas Legislature, abortion will soon be clearly illegal in Texas. In 2021, the Texas Legislature passed the Human Life Protection Act of 2021 (“the Act”), which prohibits abortions in most circumstances and takes effect on the 30th day after “issuance of a United States Supreme Court judgment in a decision overruling, wholly or partly, Roe v. Wade, 410 U.S. 113 (1973), as modified by Planned Parenthood v. Casey, 505 U.S. 833 (1992), thereby allowing the states of the United States to prohibit abortion.”1

Today, the Court issued its opinion reversing Roe, but it has yet to issue its
judgment. A judgment is a legal document distinct from the Court’s opinion. The Court will issue its judgment only after the window for the litigants to file a motion for rehearing has closed. A judgment can issue in about a month, or longer if the Court considers a motion for rehearing. So while it is clear that the Act will take effect, we cannot calculate exactly when until the Court issues its judgment. My office will publicly announce an effective date for the Act as soon as possible—and we look forward to doing so.

Upon taking effect, the Act provides that a person “may not knowingly perform, induce, or attempt an abortion” except under limited circumstances, such as a lifethreatening condition to the mother caused by the pregnancy.2 A person who violates the Act commits a first-degree felony if an unborn child dies as a result3 and incurs civil penalties of not less than $100,000 for each violation.4 My office is specifically authorized to pursue and recover those civil penalties, and I will strictly enforce this law. Further, we will assist any local prosecutor who pursues criminal charges.5 Additionally, state licensing authorities are required to revoke any applicable license or permit of a health care professional who performs or attempts to perform an abortion in violation of the Act.6

What’s more, some prosecutors may choose to immediately pursue criminal prosecutions based on violations of Texas abortion prohibitions predating Roe that were never repealed by the Texas Legislature.7 Although these statutes were unenforceable while Roe was on the books, they are still Texas law. Under these preRoe statutes, abortion providers could be criminally liable for providing abortions starting today.

Texas law in a post-Roe world has already been written. Now that the Supreme Court has finally overturned Roe, I will do everything in my power to protect the unborn and uphold the state laws duly enacted by the Texas Legislature.