AUSTIN (KXAN) — Texas voters could decide the future of abortion access in the state if a bill filed Tuesday defies the steepest of odds and advances through the Republican-controlled legislature next year.
State Rep. James Talarico, an Austin Democrat, announced he filed House Joint Resolution 56, which would put a constitutional amendment on the ballot in November next year to limit what laws the legislature can pass prohibiting abortion. After the Supreme Court overturned the Roe v. Wade decision, similar ballot measures to protect abortion access passed this year in states like Kansas, Kentucky and Michigan.
In a statement Tuesday, Talarico suggested these results provide evidence that such a proposal could possibly pass here, too.
“Every poll shows that Texans overwhelmingly oppose a total abortion ban. The lives of women and girls across our state are endangered by this extreme law,” Talarico said. “Under my bill, Texans would decide for themselves whether to reinstate Roe v. Wade in our state.”
The resolution proposes this referendum going before voters on Nov. 7, 2023. It would amend the Texas Constitution to read as follows: “The legislature shall not pass a law that abridges an individual’s access to abortion care if the individual’s decision to access abortion care is made in consultation with a licensed physician.”
What it will take to appear on the ballot
Getting a constitutional amendment onto a statewide ballot requires a proposal to first clear a number of legislative hurdles at the Texas Capitol.
According to the Texas Legislative Council, a joint resolution like the one introduced by Talarico would need to receive a two-thirds vote of the total membership of each chamber for adoption.
A joint resolution follows the same course that a bill does through both chambers. However, in the Texas House of Representatives, the resolution may be adopted on second reading if it
receives the required number of votes. Three readings are needed to adopt a joint resolution in
the Texas Senate.
Republicans will maintain comfortable majorities in the state legislature during next year’s session, so Talarico’s resolution calling for a constitutional amendment to protect abortion access likely won’t gain much support from lawmakers outside his own party.