Texas Governor Greg Abbott has come under fire for enacting some of the most restrictive abortion laws in the country. The state passed the Heartbeat Act months before the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. The law gives private citizens the power to sue anyone they suspect may have aided and abetted in providing an abortion. A trigger law is also expected to take effect next month, which would ban the procedure outright with few exceptions.
The law has wreaked havoc on reproductive healthcare clinics and providers across the state. Many facilities have shut down and the remaining providers are hesitant to provide reproductive health services for fear of facing litigation, fines, or even jail time. This has forced providers to deny abortion services to patients, even if it could potentially save the mother’s life.
The political action committee Mothers Against Greg Abbott recently released an ad mocking the governor and the state’s restrictive abortion laws. The video recreates a scene that is unfolding across the country as abortion bans take effect.
In the clip, a doctor tells an expecting couple some bad news. “Your baby has a catastrophic brain abnormality,” the doctor says.
“Your daughter, if she is to survive, will live only a matter of hours after birth,” the doctor tells the tearful couple. “During that time, she will experience a multitude of seizures and ultimately aspirate on her own bodily fluids. She will suffer.”
The doctor then says that a decision will have to be made on terminating the pregnancy — a choice that “only one person can make.”
“And that person is Greg,” the doctor explains, revealing a portrait of Abbott.
The video quickly took off online, garnering more than 7 million views across Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram.
Mothers Against Greg Abbott said the point of the ad is to show how these decisions are now left up to the state, depriving women and their partners of their right to govern their own bodies.
“Greg?” the woman in the ad says. “Who’s Greg?!” her partner asks.
The doctor then turns to a fake red phone and pretends to call the governor. With a shrug, the doctor proceeds to tell the parents: “Yeah, that’s going to be a no. Best of luck to you.”
It ends with a photo of the couple looking confused and horrified with the text, “Whose choice should it be?”
The organization added the following message when posting the video online: “Whose choice? Texas women no longer have a choice to make their most personal decision. This is wrong! Texans need to fight back and vote for Democrats this November and vote against TxGOP.”
The group was started by Nancy Thompson, a Texas mother, who has long been working to get rid of Abbott. She also cited the Uvalde shooting in Texas that left 19 children dead as one of her reasons for wanting to elect a new governor.
“The idea came about from our film team because we were trying to get a message across that not every abortion issue is black and white,” Thompson says. “It’s not always easy. It’s a hard choice.”
Thompson says Abbott pretends to care about the life of the innocent but refuses to do anything to stop gun violence.
“The lives of women are not expendable,” Thompson says. “I do think that most Texas women want what’s best for their families. We need to fight for Texas families and take Texas back.”
The video struck a chord with abortion providers across the country, including Jennifer Gunter, an OB/GYN and New York Times contributor, who reposted the video on Twitter.
“This is not a hypothetical people,” she added.
Others called the video “poorly executed,” including one woman who received a terminal diagnosis when pregnant but chose to carry to term. “I’m left wondering if whoever wrote it has ever experienced a fatal diagnosis. And if they did, was their doctor this callous?” the woman wrote on Twitter.
In response, Chelsea Aldrich, the director of the video, said the clip was based on the “real story about another real mother who chose to terminate.”
“This is not a judgment on any woman’s choice. It’s a referendum on lack of choice,” Aldrich wrote.