AUSTIN, Texas - Texas' trigger law went into effect Thursday, deeming abortions a felony punishable by up to life in prison.
This comes two months after the US Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, allowing each state to set their own abortion laws.
FOX 7's Mike Warren is joined by the President of Progress Texas, Ed Espinoza, as well as Matt Rinaldi, Chairman of the Republican Party of Texas, to discuss the trigger law and how it impacts voters in Texas.
Beto O'Rourke Ad: "From this day forward, August 25th, women all across Texas are no longer free. To make decisions about our own body. No longer free to choose if a pregnancy is right for us or our families. Not even in cases of rape or incest."
Mike Warren: This Beto O'Rourke ad is one of two that goes after the governor. Also, the Democratic candidates for attorney general and lieutenant governor teamed up to release a joint campaign ad. Both talk about returning freedoms taken away by their Republican opponents. Here to talk about this is Matt Rinaldi, chairman of the Republican Party of Texas, and Ed Espinoza, the president of Progress, Texas. Matt, starting with you, the Democrats are obviously focusing big on abortion rights. Is the GOP concerned about losing voters in November?
Matt Rinaldi: No, absolutely not. I've seen internal polling on this, and we've known about the jobs decision since the leak in May. And new voters in Texas are voting overwhelmingly, intend to vote overwhelmingly Republican. We asked them about specific issues, especially abortion, as an issue compared to other things. We found that election integrity, gun rights, things like the border, the abortion issue by about a 2 to 1 margin.
Mike Warren: Ed Espinoza, what about you? Do you think abortion is going to be a driving factor in November?
Ed Espinoza: I do. And, you know, Matt might have some internal polling, but the public polling shows that 80% of Texans do not support this trigger law. It was on the front page of the Texas Tribune yesterday and polling over the last five years and U.T. Polling Project shows that 79%, 80% on average, people do not support a total abortion ban. That is what went into effect today. Nothing for rape, nothing, for instance, for this case of incest, nothing. There are hardly any, if any at all, abortion clinics left in Texas. And the legislature isn't even done. And voters are aware of this, and they're taking those thoughts into the polling place with them this year.
Mike Warren: You know, Matt Rinaldi talking about the trigger law that is now in effect. Does the Republican Party of Texas support that or is that too extreme?
Matt Rinaldi: No, we absolutely support the trigger law. We support protecting life up to the moment of conception. And our party is a lot closer to the predominant public view across the United States than the Democratic Party position of abortion up until the moment of birth. So people know what the Republican Party position is. They know that the Democrats support unrestricted abortion at nine months of pregnancy and up to the moment of birth. And they're closer to the Republican position on this.
Mike Warren: You know, Ed Espinoza, how will the abortion rights question in Texas be decided? Will the state legislature decide it? Will the voters decided what happens?
Ed Espinoza: It ultimately has to be up to the voters because the legislature is only going to keep pushing farther on this. And by the way, nobody's in favor of abortion at nine months. Give me a break. The other thing is that when the legislature comes back into session, according to Republican Representative Briscoe Cain, who said this the day that the Dobbs decision was announced on June 24th, his words were that the legislature will take up new bills to punish women. His exact words- punish women. He told that to WFAA on June 24th for going out of state to seek care. And that's what this whole thing comes down to. It is about punishing women and trying to take control of their bodies and the legislature will not stop. It ultimately will only be decided by the voters.
Mike Warren: Okay. I got to wrap it up. But, Matt, I want to give you the last word to the same question that I asked of Ed. Should this be decided, the abortion rights question in the state, should it be decided by voters, or should it be decided by state legislators?
Matt Rinaldi: It's going to be decided by voters electing state legislators in the state of Texas. And over the past 20 years, voters in the state of Texas have overwhelmingly won, voted to protect innocent life and elected pro-life legislators.
Mike Warren: Okay, we are out of time for now, but it's going to be a very interesting election in November. Matt, Ed, I want to thank you both very much for coming by and talking with us.
Matt & Ed: Thanks / Thank you for having me.