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Abandoning ‘Women’s Health’ Claims, Texas House Approves Wide-Ranging Anti-Abortion Bill

An modification by Representative Stephanie Klick, R-Fort Worth, bans what anti-abortion advocates name “dismemberment abortion.” That’s one other nonmedical time period referring to the dilation and evacuation (D&E) process — some of the widespread kinds of abortion in the course of the second trimester.

Critics and some supporters agree the measures usually are not meant to advance women’s health — a crucial normal set by the Supreme Court — elevating the probability for future courtroom challenges.

“This legislature has a history of passing bills that have been struck by the courts because they’re unconstitutional,” stated Representative Chris Turner, D-Grand Prairie throughout debate. He argued that the D&E ban would remove authorized abortion choices for a lot of women.

Protestors impressed by “The Handmaid’s Tale” sit silently within the House gallery throughout debate on Senate Bill eight.  Sam DeGrave

Last June, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down two foremost provisions of House Bill 2, Texas’ main anti-abortion regulation handed in 2013. The courtroom dominated that the state can’t add restrictions that might create a burden on entry with out proof that the laws are crucial for women’s health. More than half of the abortion clinics in Texas have been pressured to shut by the point the regulation was deemed unconstitutional.

“Why don’t we just stop passing unconstitutional laws for a change?” Turner stated.

Supporters of the invoice sidestepped questions of whether or not the proposed measures would enhance women’s health, as an alternative specializing in emotional pleas and graphic descriptions of abortion procedures.

“Abortion is a sin, it’s wrong, it’s evil,” stated Representative Briscoe Cain, R-Deer Park.

In a Senate listening to earlier this yr, SB eight writer Senator Charles Schwertner, an orthopedic surgeon from Georgetown, repeatedly cited the debunked Planned Parenthood movies, not women’s health, as the rationale for the invoice. Representative Cindy Burkett, R-Sunnyvale, the invoice’s House sponsor, stated Friday she is worried with “fetal tissue becoming a commodity.”

The fetal stays burial requirement has already been dominated unconstitutional in Texas.

The measure was initially proposed final yr by the state health division, simply days after the Whole Woman’s Health ruling. The laws have been blocked by U.S. District Court Judge Sam Sparks, who stated they positioned new undue burdens on abortion entry. The state is interesting and the case will possible be on the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals within the subsequent few months.

Vice President Mike Pence signed an identical invoice into regulation as governor of Indiana, however a federal decide blocked the measure final yr.

Opponents of SB eight say the necessities will additional stigmatize abortion and add the sort of burdensome laws that the Supreme Court dominated unconstitutional.

“Clinics would have to get new contractors, and the rules create new burdens they may not be able to comply with,” stated Blake Rocap, legislative counsel for NARAL Pro-Choice Texas. “The other side knows that. They know if they make it hard enough to comply, clinics won’t have a license.”

The new fetal stays invoice, if given ultimate passage, shall be added to the present lawsuit, stated Amy Hagstrom Miller, CEO of Whole Woman’s Health and lead plaintiff in final yr’s Supreme Court case, Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt. She is once more on the middle of the case within the fetal burial lawsuit.

“This is not based on any science or fact, [anti-abortion advocates] know that,” Hagstrom Miller stated. “They’re trying to say what happened in the Supreme Court doesn’t apply to us in Texas.”

The invoice’s supporters say the measure will survive authorized challenges. It wouldn’t create an undue burden on clinics as a result of added prices can be minimal, they are saying. The invoice creates a registry of funeral houses and cemeteries prepared to offer free or low-cost burials.

“This is really about ensuring babies are treated in a humane manner — that their bodies are not desecrated, their organs are not harvested and sold,” stated Joe Pojman, government director of Texas Alliance for Life, the anti-abortion group aligned with Republican House management.

Abortion suppliers might additionally “absorb the cost, as a good faith measure to women,” Pojman steered, emphasizing that the price can be “very small.”

In reality, a cremation prices between $1,500 to $four,000, in response to a letter submitted to the state by the Texas Medical Association and Texas Hospital Association final yr. A full funeral prices about $7,000 to $10,000.

Democrats scrambled to average SB eight. An modification from Representative Rafael Anchia, D-Dallas, would have added a spiritual exemption to the burial requirement. Representative Jessica Farrar, D-Houston, tried so as to add an exemption to the D&E abortion ban in instances the place docs discovered it was the most secure choice for the mom, and one other that may exempt instances by which the mom’s life was in peril. An modification from Representative Barbara Gervin-Hawkins, D-San Antonio, would have exempted instances of rape and incest.

All these amendments failed.

State Representative Donna Howard, D-Austin, speaks towards SB eight Friday night.  Sam DeGrave

“Politicians have no place in the medical exam room,” Donna Howard, D-Austin, stated tearfully. “If you want to stop abortions, then help me to stop unwanted pregnancies” by supporting contraception. Abortions occurred earlier than Roe v. Wade made them authorized, she stated, and can proceed with these new restrictions, however much less safely.

Texas Alliance for Life had urged lawmakers to not help a D&E abortion ban, saying it was positive to end in a courtroom problem. Meanwhile, Texas Right to Life, aligned with the House Freedom Caucus, cheered the passage of its precedence invoice.

Conservative lawmakers drew the road at a controversial modification by Representative Matt Schaefer, R-Tyler, that may outlaw abortions after 20 weeks, together with in instances of a fetal abnormality. Burkett referred to as the modification “a step too far.”

“Why should a woman be forced to give birth to a baby that will die in birth?” Anchia requested. “Because it’s a person created in the image of God,” Schaefer stated.

Editor’s notice: This story has been up to date to mirror the House passing SB eight on third and last studying Saturday, following tentative passage Friday night. 


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