For over a year now, the players in the battle over abortion in Texas have been clearly identified, and so has the power differential: The majority of the legislature supported the new laws that had the effect of shuttering most of the state’s abortion clinics, while most of the few Democrats in both the state House and Senate opposed them. District Judge Lee Yeakel, who is the first person to hear the lawsuits surrounding those laws, sympathizes with the plaintiffs, while the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals—the judicial body to which those cases get kicked up upon appeal—tends to side with the state.
All of that has been well covered, but for the past year and a half, those have been the only players on the board, which has made the entire process feel like something akin to kabuki theater: Democrats in the lege would use stall tactics, including Wendy Davis’s famous filibuster, to try to prevent the majority from voting on the bill, but they’d ultimately lose. Abortion rights organizations would sue, get the response they wanted from Judge Yeakel, and then see that result overturned by the 5th Circuit. Ultimately, if the most powerful players on the board support HB2, then HB2 is going to happen, and all of the orange-shirted protesters, well-timed filibusters, and rulings from the lower district court can’t ultimately change any of that.