(Photo: Screen grab/Texas Tribune)
A seemingly successful professional couple living in downtown Austin, Texas, is sharing their story with fellow Americans, specifically Texans, about why they chose to abort their baby.
With help from Planned Parenthood, the nation's largest abortion provider, Marni Jade Evans, 37, and her fiancé, John Lockhart, 43, spent the first of the month on conference calls and tweeting messages to select media outlets offering to talk about how they believe the state's new abortion regulations delayed Evans' abortion procedure.
According to Evans, her scheduled abortion at a Planned Parenthood clinic was canceled because her provider didn't obtain admitting privileges at an Austin-area hospital, a requirement that's part of the state's new abortion regulations.
On Nov. 4, Planned Parenthood, the American Civil Liberties Union and other pro-abortion groups appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court to reinstate a district court's injunction that blocked a portion of the law requiring abortionists to have admitting privileges at a local hospital, citing that it would close a majority of abortion clinics in the state and block women's access to abortion.
The appeal was filed with Justice Antonin Scalia, who also reviewed the state's response filed last week.
Scalia referred the issue to the nine-member Court, which in a 5-4 decision on Tuesday, allowed Texas' abortion regulations to stand. The majority of the Court found that Planned Parenthood, et. al., had not met the requirement for setting aside the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals' order permitting the law to take effect.
In a recent interview with the Texas Tribune, Evans and Lockhart describe the stress of an unplanned pregnancy and how, at their stage in life and concerns about income, they're not prepared to start a family.
"We talked about the pros and cons of both. And looked at the health of our relationship, how long we've been together. Do we have enough built, as a foundation, to create a loving, healthy, happy family? We looked at our financial situation," Evans explained.
An architect by training, Evans is a LEED sustainability educator and consultant who has her own firm, Marni Evans Sustainability. She's also an instructor at the Professional Development Center at the University of Texas at Austin, and has worked on more than 200 LEED projects in the U.S., Canada and Mexico.
Her fiancé, who said in the interview, "This was absolutely not the right time for us to have a child," is a computer software engineer who described the stress he was under due to the pregnancy.
"I think that, for men, one [issue] is that an unplanned pregnancy has implications for everyone's life," Lockhart said. "You care about the one you're with. I care about her health. I care about her state of mind. I care about the stress that both of us have had to undergo. And so, it's something that's not just of concern to women, but of any caring partner in a relationship."
During a conference call with Planned Parenthood that The Christian Post reported on last week, Evans said that because her abortion provider was not in compliance with HB2 – which requires abortionists to have admitting privileges at a local hospital within 30 miles of their clinic in cases of emergency – she claimed that she was planning to fly to Seattle, where she previously lived, to have her abortion.
"My first instinct was that I am getting the hell out of Texas," she told the Tribune. Her fiancé agreed, saying, "I was all for Marni's decision to leave the state."
As it turns out, Evans didn't have to leave the state, or Austin for that matter, and was able to obtain her abortion, which she described as being completed in the first six to seven weeks of her pregnancy.
Evans, who said she can "walk to the state capitol" from her residence but vaguely follows abortion politics, commented that she and Lockhart are feeling good about their decision.
"I feel comfortable, so comfortable and confident in our decision," she said. "I also think I'm lucky to be in a position in my life where I have education, I have support, I have a lifetime of knowledge. I feel OK.
She then emphasized her concerns that, because abortion facilities are now required to meet new health and safety standards, her rights, at least in Texas, are being trampled on.
"Frankly, my rights have been taken away, and I want my constitutional rights restored and I'm willing to do what it takes to get that."
Evans continued, "In the state of Texas alone, there are 80,000 abortions performed every year. So this is affecting 80,000 Texas couples."
She went on to implore Texans to elect lawmakers who are "pro-choice."
Lockhart concurred, saying that HB2 has had a "severe impact on their lives." He thinks the abortion regulations that were passed by the Texas legislature and signed into law by Republican Gov. Rick Perry are nothing more than "ridiculous political theatre." And further described the law's passage as "things people did to further their political careers and shore up their political base."
As passed, the Texas law bans abortion at 20 weeks gestation, starting from the sixth month of pregnancy (except in cases where the mother faces a medical emergency); requires abortionists to follow FDA guidelines for dispensing abortion-inducing drugs, and to have admitting privileges at a hospital located within 30 miles of the abortion facility where they practice.
The National Abortion Federation also recommends that women "make sure" their abortion doctor is "able to admit patients to a nearby hospital (no more than 20 minutes away)," which is advised in their pamphlet, Having an Abortion? Your Guide to Good Care.
Gov. Perry on Tuesday issued the following statement regarding the U.S. Supreme Court's decision to allow Texas abortion restrictions to remain in effect:
"This is good news both for the unborn and for the women of Texas, who are now better protected from shoddy abortion providers operating in dangerous conditions. As always, Texas will continue doing everything we can to protect the culture of life in our state."
In January 2014, abortion facilities will also be required to meet the same health and safety standards as ambulatory care centers.
Evans declined an interview with The Christian Post.