AUSTIN (KXAN) — With Friday’s overturning of Roe v. Wade, many expect the Texas “trigger law” to take effect in 30 days, but that’s not exactly how it works.
The law — which automatically bans most abortions in the state — takes effect 30 days after the U.S. Supreme Court issues an official judgment, not an opinion, according to Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton.
“The Court will issue its judgment only after the window for the litigants to file a motion for rehearing has closed,” Paxton said in an official advisory. “A judgment can issue in about a month, or longer if the Court considers a motion for rehearing.”
The Republican-led legislature passed HB 1280, dubbed the “Human Life Protection Act” in 2021. The law prohibits abortions “except under limited circumstances, such as a life-threatening condition to the mother caused by the pregnancy.”
A violation of the law is a first-degree felony “if an unborn child dies as a result” and could result in a civil penalty of at least $100,000 and potential criminal charges.
State Sen. Paul Bettencourt (R-Houston) was one of dozens of co-authors of the bill. He told KXAN Friday he also expects delays due to legal action.
“There will be a tremendous amount of litigation from here,” Bettencourt said. “I expect that we’ll be right back waiting for more Supreme Court rulings next year at this time.”
The co-executive director of the Texas Democratic Party said you can count on legal action along with voter mobilization.
“In Texas in particular, we are working to make sure we elect Beto O’Rourke [as governor] and that we flip seats in the Texas legislature so that we can repeal many of the abortion bans and laws that are in place,” Brown told KXAN.
In his advisory, Paxton said Friday’s Supreme Court decision means abortion laws that were on the books before Roe v. Wade are technically back in effect because they were never repealed.
The attorney general said as a result, prosecutors could take immediate action if they so choose.
Editor’s note: This story was updated to include an interview with the Texas Democratic Party and additional information from the attorney general’s advisory.