On Friday, the Supreme Court granted review to a legal challenge of Texas’ pro-life law passed as H.B. 2—the first case directly tied to abortion policy the high court has accepted since 2007. Oral argument of the case is expected in the spring.
Because the nine justices are likely to decide the case in June when citizens nationwide will be closely following the presidential election, this legal battle becomes a flashpoint for all candidates to address pro-life issues.
Photo: Matt Lockett
The Supreme Court will consider two provisions of the 2013 law, which passed the Texas House by a bipartisan majority of 96-49. Specifically under review are requirements that abortion centers maintain the same safety standards as ambulatory surgical centers, and that doctors performing abortions have admitting privileges in a local hospital.
While media coverage has already termed the Texas law “extreme” and “far-reaching,” medical experts uphold these provisions as necessary for women’s health. To be sure, this Texas case provides an opportunity to examine a long-standing media narrative—that pro-life advocates care only about lives in the womb and not past the point of birth.
Now seven Texas families share their unique journeys of life and love, revealing how a state boldly defending pre-born children relates the pro-life cause to issues such as adoption, parenting and education.
1. She Turned Down Doctors Who Said to Abort Her “Special Needs” Baby
Lisa Smiley finds joy in caring for her son Zeke, who faces physical challenges (Photo Courtesy of Smiley Family)
“I was 23 when I became pregnant with our firstborn,” states Lisa Smiley of Frisco. “My husband James and I were totally ecstatic to be expecting. However, at our 20-week ultrasound, a major life-threatening heart defect was found.”
“They warned us that this was usually a cause for abortion,” she continues. “We were stunned. Our lives had just been completely turned upside down, and we were totally unprepared for the challenges ahead. Yet we had decided a long time ago that abortion was wrong, under any circumstance; now our convictions would be tested in real life.”
After his birth, their boy Zeke faced severe health issues—including a cardiac arrest last year from which he’s been recovering. Lisa and James say without hesitation: “Our lives have been filled with joy and happiness by having Zeke in our family.” UPDATE: Though Zeke passed away on 12/26/15, he truly left a legacy after seven years.
2. To Give Kids a Chance at Life, This Family Answered the Call to Adopt
Maranda and Ed Gomes adopted three of their five children (Photo Courtesy of Gomes Family)
“For years, I’ve prayed outside abortion centers—being a public witness as we seek God’s heart and strategies to end the bloodshed of innocents,” shares Maranda Gomes of North Richland Hills, a longtime Bound4LIFE chapter leader. “I’ll continue to pray. Yet I also cannot discount the value of putting action to one’s prayers.”
“In recent years, my husband and I have chosen to live out our prayers by adopting three children (some with special needs).” Gomes answers simply when people ask why: “Because we saw in God’s Word a mandate that was there all along.”
“I’m not saying it is easy. My daily reality is a bit more challenging than that of most people,” says the mother of five. Yet Gomes notes the need is staggering: “Today, more than 100,000 children in the U.S. alone are waiting to be welcomed into permanent adoptive homes.”
3. Even Without His Dad in the Picture, She Chose Life for Her Boy
Photo: Nicolas Alejandro / Flickr
“I was 23 when I found out I was pregnant,” revealed one Dallas woman in an anonymous interview. “I was on drugs. I was sick, my stomach was giving out; I didn’t know what was going on till I knew the little one was in there.”
“It was scary. When they told me at the hospital I was pregnant, I was like, ‘No, I’m not, you gotta take that test over again.’ I went into the waiting room and was like, This cannot be happening.”
A client of Restored Hope Ministries—a safe home to rescue exploited women from prostitution and sex trafficking—she spoke on condition of anonymity. “The change happened when I started to talk to him. In the seventh month I said, ‘I love you’ and called him by name. As I started praying and talking to him, I realized: This is a life.”
“I love my son,” she concluded. “He just turned two. He’s awesome; he’s a beast.”
4. After Cancer Scare, Texas Rangers Pitcher Experiences Major League Miracle
Jon Edwards, pictured with his wife Katelyn, takes the mound for the Texas Rangers (Photo Courtesy of Edwards Family)
Jon Edwards started this season as a pitcher for the Texas Rangers baseball team in Arlington. Considering he had undergone surgery to remove testicular cancer in December, Edwards was grateful to be cleared for spring training—putting the cancer scare behind him.
In a turn the media proclaimed a “miracle,” Jon and his wife Katelyn Edwards announced her pregnancy in spring; doctors said they defied the odds. “Every day I am mindful that there is a little baby on the inside,” said Katelyn Edwards in an interview this year. “In the decisions and choices I make, I want to do what is going to benefit and protect this little baby.”
On October 24, the young couple welcomed their baby boy Benjamin David into the world. While Edwards was traded to the San Diego Padres earlier this season, their family has deep roots in Texas.
5. She Prayed for the Ending of Abortion—Then the Clinic Closed
For months, Krystal Edens prayed outside an abortion center in Dallas (Photo: Matt Lockett)
The infamous case Roe v. Wade was first filed in 1970, at the Earle Cabell Federal Courthouse in Dallas. When she attended a pro-life event outside this court, one college student believes she heard from God how to put her convictions into action: “My small assignment was to pray once a week at the closest Planned Parenthood clinic from me.”
Every week, Krystal Edens made the 12-minute drive to the urban Oak Cliff neighborhood. “I spent many Thursday nights sitting in my car alone in the parking lot: praying, facing the abortion center, wondering if I was making a difference.”
“Returning to Dallas for my fall semester, I hit the ground running with college. I really want to make time to pray at that abortion center, I thought as I looked at my schedule. Early one Wednesday evening, I carved out an hour to quickly go to the clinic to pray,” she recalls.
“Pulling into the parking lot, I saw a FOR LEASE sign across the stripped building. It dawned on me: the abortion center was closed,” says Edens. “Tears welled up in my eyes as I thought of the little lives who would be saved.”
6. Inspired by Forefathers Who Endured Slavery, He Wants to Abolish Abortion
Will Ford and his wife Dehavilland speak together on the sanctity of human life (Photo Courtesy of JHOP DC)
Author and academic instructor Will Ford has a singular story of how he became a pro-life advocate in his public speaking. “In 2001, I had an encounter while in prayer where I agonizingly wept for more than two hours in travail for our nation,” he begins.
“With intensity I’d never known before, I wept over the pain and racial division in America,” Ford continues. “I then inwardly heard the Lord speak to me: If I heard the whispered prayers of slaves underneath cooking pots, how much more do I hear the silent screams of babies being aborted in America?”
Since then, Ford has not stopped speaking out about the parallels between abortion and slavery. “I’ve been told I’d sell more books, have more church invitations to speak, get booked on Christian TV shows and make more money—if only I would speak less about abortion,” says Ford.
“But woe to me if I don’t tell the truth about this great atrocity of abortion. Just as sure as I know the Lord, I know the assignments He has given me,” he concludes. “Being a voice for the voiceless who have been aborted is one of them.”
7. Planned Parenthood Betrayed Me, Says Woman Who Now Counsels Others
Photo Courtesy of Debby Efurd
“When I walked into their clinic, Planned Parenthood didn’t see a woman needing help—they saw dollar signs,” recounts Debby Efurd.
Efurd relates her story of mistreatment at the hands of Planned Parenthood’s Dallas clinic. “I wasn’t informed of the medical procedure I would undergo; I never received counseling or even a follow-up phone call.”
“I walked in the front door, paid for the services in cash and was then shown the back door—but not until the abortionist told me, ‘Good news: you no longer have a baby.’” Today, as founder of Initiative 180 in Dallas, Efurd ministers healing as she counsels post-abortive women.
Photo: Matt Turner / Flickr
From these seven individuals to Governor Greg Abbott, elected last November by a 20-point margin on a pro-life platform, Texans have chosen to defy the culture in a nation where an estimated 2,900 defenseless lives are discarded daily.
The results are starting to show. One study authored by a pro-choice group charted the decline in the abortion rate since H.B. 2 passed, finding that more than 10,000 Texans’ lives have already been spared. The Supreme Court will determine next summer if the law will go into full effect.