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Texans React To Supreme Court's Ruling On State Abortion Law


Since Texas passed the law at the center of the Supreme Court case, more than half of the clinics in the state that perform abortions have closed. That means that today's ruling was an emotional one for people on both sides of the debate there. NPR's Wade Goodwyn has their reaction.

WADE GOODWYN, BYLINE: In women's clinics across the state, abortion rights advocates gathered this morning and waited to hear the Supreme Court's ruling. At the Houston Women's Clinic, they sat together hopefully, anxiously, fearfully, their eyes glued to their cell phones, waiting for the website SCOTUSblog to report the news. Houston Public Media was there, too. Women's Clinic counselor Jessica Rossi saw it first.

JESSICA ROSSI: Yes. The decision of the 5th Circuit is reversed. Yes, the vote is 5-3.


ROSSI: Five-three, 5-3. It's 5-3.

GOODWYN: In Austin, they gathered at the now-closed Whole Women's Health Clinic. Whole Women's Health was the lead plaintiff in the case. Heather Busby was there. She's the executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Texas. Busby says that while today's decision was a major win, over the last five years, the state has wrecked its women's health care infrastructure.

HEATHER BUSBY: Since 2011, we've lost more than 80 - that's eight-zero - family planning clinics around this state. And now we've lost abortion care clinics which also provided family planning and well women exams and STI screening and treatment. So we have a broken reproductive health care system in this state. Rebuilding it will not happen overnight. The fight continues. It continues to go on because Texas is still very hostile to reproductive health care.

JOE POJMAN: We are very disappointed that the Supreme Court ruled the way it did today.

GOODWYN: Joe Pojman is the executive director of Texas Alliance for Life.

POJMAN: We think it's a big setback - no question about it. It means that the state of Texas is not going to be able to enforce what we believe are very reasonable safety standards. And that's a very big disappointment to us.

GOODWYN: The movement and its allies in the Republican-dominated Texas Legislature say that while they may be wounded, they're ready with another strategy. John Seago is the legislative director of Texas Right to Life. Seago says they will shift focus from protecting the health of the woman to protecting the fetus from pain. They'll urge the Texas Legislature to pass new laws that prohibit certain types of abortion procedures.

JOHN SEAGO: So in Texas, we're recommending passing the dismemberment abortion ban, a law that would prohibit dismemberment abortion, the method - specific method of abortion that takes the life of the preborn child by taking its limbs apart.

GOODWYN: As for Planned Parenthood, instead of fighting a rear guard defensive action as it has the last three years, it will use the Supreme Court's decision to go on the offensive and remove state restrictions on abortion rights. Dawn Laguens is the executive vice president of Planned Parenthood.

DAWN LAGUENS: States like Texas, Ohio, Arizona, Louisiana, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin - all should have regulations that should fall as a result of this.

GOODWYN: And so the passionate fight over abortion moves to its next front, each side every bit as determined as before. Wade Goodwyn, NPR News, Dallas. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Wade Goodwyn is an NPR National Desk Correspondent covering Texas and the surrounding states.