HOUSTON — Although Texas has some of the strictest abortion laws in the country, a bill filed this week by a Texas Representative could allow voters to overturn the bans.
Following the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, Texas lawmakers passed one of the most extreme abortion bans in the country. There are no exceptions for incest or rape, only allowing an abortion to save the life of the mother.
On Tuesday, State Rep. James Talarico, a Democrat from District 52, filed House Joint Resolution 56. The bill would put a constitutional amendment on the ballot next year to limit laws the legislature can pass on abortion restrictions.
“Let’s take the politics out of it,” said Rep. Talarico. “Let’s let people decide, not politicians.”
Talarico points to a University of Texas at Austin poll earlier this year that showed 78% of Texans surveyed believed abortion should be allowed in some form.
“The vast majority of Texan Democrats, Republicans, Independents, don’t support that kind of extreme abortion ban,” Talarico said.
Abortion access was a ballot question in the Republican states of Kentucky and Kansas, where, as a surprise to many, voters decided to keep access to abortion.
Constitutional lawyer Will King, with Wallace & Allen, explains getting a constitutional amendment on the ballot in Texas is not an easy feat.
“There’s basically one way to get an amendment to the Texas constitution submitted to the voters,” King explained, “And it begins with the state legislature.”
Talarico’s bill would first have to pass a committee before moving on to the House. There it would require a two-thirds vote before moving on to the Senate where it would need a two-thirds vote again. Not easy hurdles as both the House and Senate in Texas are controlled by Republicans.
If House Joint Resolution 56 can jump all of those hurdles, the question would appear on the November 2023 ballot.