AUSTIN (KXAN) — The Supreme Court’s decision Friday to overturn the landmark Roe v. Wade case calls into question what kinds of resources and support will be available to Texas women who become pregnant and face a crisis situation.

In a statement celebrating the court’s ruling, Gov. Greg Abbott touted recent investments into programs that he said are aimed at helping expectant mothers, and he promised to keep working with the Texas legislature to provide more.

“I signed laws that extended Medicaid health care coverage to six months post-partum, appropriated $345 million for women’s health programs, and invested more than $100 million toward our Alternatives to Abortion program,” Abbott said Friday. “This critical program provides counseling, mentoring, care coordination, and material assistance, such as car seats, diapers, and housing to mothers in need.”

Alternatives to Abortion Program

The Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) runs the Alternatives to Abortion program. According to the HHSC program’s website, it “promotes childbirth and provides support services to pregnant women and their families, adoptive parents, and parents who have experienced miscarriage or the loss of a child.” The program receives funding from the state’s general revenue as well as federal block grants from the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families.

Funding from the state for this program has increased dramatically in recent years. During the 2020-2021 biennium, the state allocated almost $80 million for the Alternatives to Abortion program.

In fiscal year 2021, state records indicate the program served 126,533 clients, “representing a 25% increase from fiscal year 2020,” according to the program’s 2021 report.

Four service providers contract with HHSC for the program. Those include Austin LifeCare, Longview Wellness Center, The Pregnancy Network and the Texas Pregnancy Care Network.

During fiscal year 2021, the state awarded $36.5 million to Texas Pregnancy Care Network; $8.8 million to Human Coalition; $750,000 to Austin LifeCare; and $54,000 to Longview Wellness Center.

Criticism of ‘social safety net’ in Texas

While Republican leaders have expressed their intent to increase funding for efforts like this, one legal expert in Texas cast doubt on the amount of assistance that the state can provide people in a post-Roe world.

Elizabeth Sepper, a professor at the University of Texas School of Law, said she expected Texas to not be able to do much for women with an unwanted pregnancy.

“The social safety net in the state of Texas is near the bottom of every state. We’re in constant competition with Mississippi and Alabama for who can do it worse,” Sepper said. “We have very high rates of maternal and infant mortality already. We failed to extend Medicaid in ways that would ensure that people of reproductive age are healthy at the moment that they become pregnant. We don’t have pre-K or daycare that’s subsidized in any meaningful way. The social safety net isn’t here. We’re going to see many more people who experience unwanted pregnancies and then end up having to carry them to turn against their will.”

She also weighed in Friday about Justice Clarence Thomas’ concurring opinion to the Mississippi case that ended up overturning Roe. Thomas called for the reconsideration of the constitutional rights that the court had affirmed for access to contraceptives and LGBTQ rights in previous decisions.

“I don’t know that there are votes in the court. It would take some time,” Sepper said. “We’d have to see a state first that acts in a way that takes away benefits to same-sex marriage from same-sex couples and then have litigation arising from that law or from an act of the executive. I expect we could see that in relatively short order.”

Right now Austin city leaders are discussing how to move forward with the abortion access fund they created in 2019, which is being distributed to third-party organizations that offer those services.