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Lubbockites react to abortion rights reversal

Sarah Self-Walbrick
Texas Tech Public Media
Fletcher Pape protested the U.S. Supreme Court's decision to reverse Roe v. Wade, which granted people the privacy right to have an abortion, on Friday, June 24, 2022.

The U.S. Supreme Court decided in a 6-3 opinion that the issue of abortion should be returned to the states. In Texas, that means all abortions will soon be banned.

The news elicited passionate responses throughout Lubbock. Friday afternoon, abortion rights supporters gathered at the Tim Cole Memorial Park to protest the decision.

Tricia Earl was one of the organizers. She said even after the Supreme Court opinion was leaked to Politco last month, she had a hard time processing that the decades-old court precedent was now gone. Being with like-minded people felt supportive and they are looking for ways to take action.

Earl said she is privileged and wants to find ways to use that to help.

“I recognize that,” she said. “So I will continuously remind others like me that we have a privilege and we have a responsibility.”

Fletcher Pape was also protesting. He is a transman who had an abortion in Dallas a few years ago. He said he faced protesters at the appointment, and after years of hearing anti-abortion rights rhetoric, has felt the need to be open about the experience.

“I’m tired of having to watch more and more of my sister and brother being told that they can’t control their own bodies,” he said. “That they have to live in fear now.”

Lubbock’s Republican lawmakers in statements on Friday praised the Supreme Court opinion.

“This day is long overdue,” House District 83 Rep. Dustin Burrows said. “Life is the most precious gift from God, and millions of lives have been ended before getting an opportunity to experience this gift. In Texas, the unborn will finally be protected for the first time in my lifetime.”

“This is a great day for America!” said Lubbock Congressman Jodey Arrington. “By the grace of God and the tireless efforts of pro-life champions, we have restored constitutional integrity to our Republic and returned the power back to states and We the People,”

Lubbock is affected by the state’s Senate Bill 8, which banned abortions in Texas as early as six weeks into a pregnancy. That law became official in September and is similar to a local-level ordinance.

Abortion services have not been available in Lubbock since last year, when the city became the largest so-called “sanctuary city for the unborn” in the country. After the city council unanimously voted against an ordinance that attempted to criminalize abortion and allow civil litigation against providers, it was approved by a citizen vote and went into effect last June.

Lubbock’s ordinance declares abortion at all stages of pregnancy to “be an act of murder.” It allows family members of an aborted fetus to sue the abortion provider. Anyone who helped a person get the procedure, like the person who drove them to the appointment, could be sued.

Aspects of the ordinance that criminalize providing abortion services could now be enforced following the overturning of Roe v. Wade.

The legal implications of the Supreme Court’s opinion in Texas were unclear as of Friday afternoon. According to The Texas Tribune, many clinics and abortion service funds ceased operations immediately because some argued laws that pre-date Roe v. Wade’s precedent are again in effect.

While those decades-old laws are in question, Attorney General Ken Paxton said in a statement that the “trigger” law that is a part of Senate Bill 8 will not go into effect until 30 days after Supreme Court’s official judgment, which is different than the opinion released Friday. The Texas Tribune reports that is typically issued about a month after the initial opinion.

Sarah Self-Walbrick is the news director at Texas Tech Public Media, where she leads the news team and focuses on underreported stories in Lubbock. Sarah is a Lubbock native and a three-time graduate of Texas Tech University. She started her career at the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal.
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