Abortion bills heard in Texas Senate committee

Cheryl Sanders
February 17, 2017

AUSTIN - The state's latest legislative battle over reproductive rights kicked off Wednesday with the Senate Health and Human Services Committee's first public hearings on three abortion-related bills that would regulate medical procedures, along with the use and disposition of fetal remains. Schwertner said the motivation behind the bill came from 2015 video footage alleging Planned Parenthood had sold fetal organs.

A separate bill, SB 415, authored by Sen. His legislation was bundled with two other anti-abortion bills - one to throw out the safest abortion procedure for second-trimester pregnancies, the other to mandate all abortion remains are buried and cremated - penned by two other GOP senators, Charles Perry and Don Huffines. Perry said his bill does not ban the dilation and extraction procedure altogether, but instead requires doctors to terminate the fetus before the surgery is done. "Because the avenue of lying about what is good women's health and safety is now foreclosed to them, they're now having to turn to other methods to make operating a practice hard if not nearly impossible".

"There is no discernible public health benefit to these bills", Amanda Williams, executive director of the Lilith Fund said.

Seago, whose group has pushed the idea behind SB 415 for over a year, said that bill is key to stopping abortions in Texas. "My bill deals with the dignity of the unborn, and that is a profound goal for the state of Texas".

"People seeking abortion services should be treated with respect, dignity and compassion", Williams said.


Watson said the decision should be left to the mother.

Reproductive rights supporters blasted lawmakers for taking up bills that did not enhance access to sexual health services. Not a single Senator has filed a companion bill to abolish abortion.

It's important, Pojman told the committee, for Texas' anti-abortion legislators to do things that aren't just good, but will work. Abortion advocates said the bills would further stigmatize women and improperly interfere with the doctor-patient relationship, while abortion opponents voiced appreciation for any effort to crack down on a procedure they consider murder - although many criticized the bills for not going far enough.

The newest Texas proposals would toughen regulations on what happens to a fetus both before and after an abortion. "So far, only the House has filed a bill to defend life".

Huffines' bill would codify a 2016 rule adopted by the Texas Department of Health that has been halted by a federal judge pending a legal challenge by abortion rights groups.


In talking about SB 415, Donna Harrison, executive director for the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists, said the practice of dismemberment abortions "is not about the dead fetus but the living fetus" and is not medically necessary.

"This bill is full of false, medically inaccurate, ideological language created to further stigmatize and shame women receiving abortion care", Hennessy said, going on to argue that the proposed law flies in the face of the advice of many medical professionals.

Harrison continued, "If veterinarians ripped apart living dogs or cats to kill them in the same way that a living fetus is ripped apart in the D&E procedure the outcry would be deafening".

"If you are going to allow abortions, then (the U.S. Supreme Court has said) the state has a vested interest in doing it as humanely and civilly as possible", Perry said.

After three days of testimony from attorneys for the state and Planned Parenthood, U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks is letting the reproductive health provider stay in Medicaid until February 21.


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