Houston church leaders unite against new abortion law

Starting September 1st, Texans have permanent alcohol to-go options and medical marijuana permits for all cancer patients and those suffering from PTSD.

While those laws expand privileges, others restrict them. 

Senate Bill 8 is being endorsed as protection for those who can’t protect themselves.

"Women still have options. It's just that in Texas, we are choosing to protect life," says Elizabeth Graham, Vice President of Texas Right to Life. 

The organization helped draft the Heartbeat Act that prohibits abortions after a heartbeat is detected in a fetus. That usually happens around six weeks into a pregnancy, before a heart is fully developed, and before many women know they're pregnant. 

"We've been battling this Roe v. Wade and abortion for decades now.  There are so many wounded women who have made this choice and we're missing these unborn children who would now be growing and who would be part of our family and the fabric of society," adds Graham. 

The law is receiving criticism as one of the most restrictive abortion bans in the country and even has some churches assembling against it. 

 "We live in a country where a third of women have had an abortion, which means that on a Sunday morning when I'm preaching to my congregation, I can assume that a third of the women there have had an abortion," says Reverend Dr. Colin Bossen, Senior Minister of The First Unitarian Universalist Church of Houston.  

The church is part of Reproductive Freedom Congregations, a growing group of twenty-five churches across Texas that says their foundation is built on respect for women, including their right to choose. 

"There are progressive liberal mainstream churches that are synagogues and mosques and temples that are out there and believe in reproductive freedom for women," says Bossen. "We're going to make our voices known and make it known that people of faith believe in women's reproductive health and that we are really committed to trying to make sure that that remains a possibility- that access to abortion remains a possibility for them in Texas."

S.B. 8 does not give exceptions for rape, abuse, or incest but allows abortions after six weeks for some medical emergencies. 

"We would much rather help the woman turn something tragic if she chooses life into something beautiful," says Graham. "We actually work with women who have conceived out of rape and incest, a few women. And they have said that choosing life after that circumstance was empowering and healing."

The new law also allows citizens to sue anyone aiding or abetting an illegal abortion. Texas Right to Life has already launched a whistleblower website.

"It’s really something that's just straight out of, and I don't mean this to call names, but just the fascist playbook - encouraging people to snitch on folks that they know to undermine their freedoms," says the reverend.  

"Throughout the country, we will be continuing to work for women's reproductive freedom long after this bill has been consigned to the dustbin of history," adds Bossen. 

The law faces legal challenges including a request for a temporary restraining order.

Whatever the verdict, both sides say they’re prepped to continue the abortion war well beyond September 1st.