One year after Texas implemented Senate Bill 8, which was then one of the most restrictive abortion bans in the U.S., Texas voters are showing widespread support for abortion access and are more politically motivated to vote for change.
According to a recent poll by Perry Undem, which surveyed over 2,000 voters across various demographics, 60 percent of Texas voters believe abortion should be available in all or most cases, with only 11 percent of Texans wanting abortion banned in all cases.
9 out of 10 surveyed also agree that Texas politicians are out of touch with their electorate, the poll shows.
Since the six-week abortion ban, the state’s policy on abortion has become even stricter, successfully banning abortion at conception except in very slim circumstances where the pregnant person’s life is at risk.
Even then, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is currently in court challenging the federal government on the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA), forcing hospitals and physicians to decide when is the right time to provide care.
With two months until election day, Planned Parenthood Texas Votes Executive Director Dyana Limon-Mercado said abortion rights are a top issue for Texas voters across the political spectrum.
“There is a real path to victory, especially for our state-wide candidates this election cycle, and a real possibility that’s palatable in ways that it hasn’t been before,” Limon-Mercado said.
Nonetheless, despite Texas GOP elected officials’ restrictive abortion policies, over 68 percent of Texas voters from age 18-44 say they can see a scenario where getting an abortion might be the best option.
That was the case for 22-year-old Jessica G., who was forced to travel to Louisiana to seek care in light of the six-week abortion ban.
Jessica told the Signal that when the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, she felt she couldn’t be silent.
“I was not ready for another baby at all,” she said. “I was struggling with postpartum depression. I was a stay-at-home mom, so I was home with her all day. I had just reconciled with my husband, so I was not in a good place. And I just mentally was super depressed and feeling a lot.”
Jessica also said she’s always believed in abortion rights but never defined herself as political until giving birth to her daughter and realizing she has fewer rights than previous generations.
“I have never voted and never cared about politics ever,” she said. “I always thought it was boring and thought, why do I need to vote? My vote doesn’t matter. And now I’m registered to vote and will be voting in November.”
According to polling, S.B. 8 also shifted how Texas voters feel about abortion.
And Mercado emphasized how the poll and recent victories for abortion advocates in Kansas and Alaska are two examples that restrictive abortion policies differ from voters’ actual stance on reproductive healthcare.
Despite Texas Republicans’ (majority white males) religious framing when creating anti-abortion policies, about 60 percent of Texas voters say they don’t think of abortion as a religious issue personally.
“At the end of the day, no matter the voter’s religious affiliation, geography, race, or ethnicity is that Texans, more than anything, do believe in freedom and independence, and they deserve, and they know they deserve the right to make their own decisions about their health, their bodies, and their futures,” Mercado said.
Under current law, Texas’s abortion ban criminalizes the procedure at conception, and anyone who performs an abortion could face up to life in prison and a $100,000 fine.
Educating patients, providing ultrasounds, counseling, and follow-up care after an abortion is the primary way Planned Parenthood Houston physician Dr. Bhavik Kumar said he is caring for his patients.
Kumar said patients are traveling to New Mexico, Colorado, California, Kansas, and Florida to access abortion care. He added that doctors and physicians are being forced to navigate laws and policies instead of medicine.
“When we have these laws that are completely opposite of what our intent is and squarely in the way of us being able to have these conversations with our patients,” he said. “We’re questioning what we can and can’t say and if we can potentially have severe fines, lose our license, spend time in jail, if not life in jail, it becomes very, very difficult to practice medicine, and it’s not a safe way to provide care for people.”
Kennedy is a recent graduate of the University of St.Thomas in Houston where she served as Editor-in-Chief of the Celt Independent. Kennedy brings her experience of writing about social justice issues to the Texas Signal where she serves as our Political Reporter. She does everything from covering crime beats, Texas politics, and community activism. Kennedy is a passionate reporter, avid reader, coffee enthusiast, and loves to travel.