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03.20.17 - (MEDIA ADVISORY) The Texas Senate gave final approval and passed a measure today which would ban a safe, medically proven method of ending a pregnancy in the second trimester, with only a narrow exception for women facing immediate, serious medical risks.
The Center for Reproductive Rights called upon the Texas Senate Health and Human Services Committee to reject the measure (SB415) in a letter sent last month, stating the measure “is clearly unconstitutional and will endanger the health of Texans by preventing physicians in the state from exercising their best medical judgment in caring for their patients.”
Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson signed a similar measure into law earlier this year even though bans of this nature face strong opposition. West Virginia Governor Earl Ray Tomblin (D) vetoed a similar measure last year while similar laws in Louisiana, Kansas and Oklahoma have not taken effect due to challenges brought by the Center for Reproductive Rights. The ACLU has also successfully blocked a similar ban in Alabama.
“Texas politicians can’t seem to take a hint, continuing to advance insulting and unconstitutional restrictions on a woman’s right to safe, legal abortion,” said Amanda Allen, Senior State Legislative Counsel at the Center for Reproductive Rights. “Texas politicians need to abandon their crusade against women’s dignity and focus on measures that actually improve the lives and health of women and their families.”
Texas is considering more than 40 measures this legislative session which would restrict a woman’s access to safe and legal abortion. For instance, the Texas Senate passed a measure last week (SB 8) which would ban a medical procedure already banned by federal law and duplicates federal law’s prohibitions on selling fetal tissue. The bill would also ban women who have ended their pregnancies from making the compassionate choice of donating fetal tissue. By banning fetal tissue donation just for women who have had abortions --and not other patients--the state is singling out those women to shame them and send a clear message that the state does not approve of their decision to have an abortion.
The Texas legislature is also considering multiple measures which double down on regulations finalized by the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) in 2016 forcing Texas health care providers to bury or cremate embryonic or fetal tissue from abortions, miscarriage or treatment for ectopic pregnancy–regardless of their patients’ personal wishes or beliefs. The Center for Reproductive Rights is currently challenging those regulations, which were first proposed just four days after the U.S. Supreme Court’s historic Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt decision in June. A district court blocked the regulations from taking effect in late January. These politically motivated regulations are designed to shame and stigmatize women, and cut off access to reproductive care in direct defiance of the U.S. Supreme Court, which just held that medically unnecessary restrictions on safe, legal abortion are unconstitutional.
SB415 and SB8 now head to the House.