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Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Texas Legislature Moves To Pass Anti-Abortion Bill

Abortion Restrictions Texas.JPEG-0c269

Texas Republicans passed a sweeping bill late Sunday night that would close the vast majority of the state’s abortion clinics and ban abortions after 20 weeks. Democrats pulled out all stops to delay the vote on the restrictive bill, but fell short when at 4 a.m. on Monday morning the House chamber passed SB 5 by a 95-34 margin.

Republican State Representative Jodie Laubenberg, a co-sponsor of SB 5, said, “This bill will ensure that women are given the highest standard of health care in a very vulnerable time in their life.”

Under SB 5, abortions would not be permitted in clinics over 30 miles away from a hospital. Of the state’s 42 abortion clinics, 37 fall under this heading, as the presence of clinics away from major hospitals is meant to reduce travel for women in rural areas. An amendment introduced by Democrats would have expanded that area to 50 miles, but — like several other Democratic amendments introduced during the nine-hour debate on the House floor — it was swiftly voted down by the Republican majority. As a result, if the state Senate approves the bill, almost 90 percent of the state’s abortion clinics will be forced to close.

SB 5 also includes a measure that would require all abortion facilities to update their equipment by 2014. Democrats introduced a measure to postpone this requirement until 2015 to provide the clinics with more time, but this amendment was also voted down. That means that the five abortion clinics left open in the entire state would also see their doors closed if they cannot update their facilities in the next year.

Laubenberg justified the bill on the House floor stating, “At five months, we are talking about a human being, unless you think it’s still a clump of mass…and we have to protect that baby’s rights.” She continued, “Too often the back-alley clinic today is the abortion clinic because of lax standards.”

Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Action Fund, slammed the bill, saying “If this passes, abortion would be virtually banned in the state of Texas, and many women could be forced to resort to dangerous and unsafe measures.” According to Salon, The Texas Medical Association, the Texas Hospital Association, and the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists side with Richards in opposing the bill.

Arguably the most overreaching provision in the bill is one that would restrict abortions to the first 20 weeks of a woman’s pregnancy. Democrats introduced another amendment that would require the state to provide scientific evidence that fetuses can feel pain after 20 weeks, but it was also tabled. While the bill explicitly states, “substantial medical evidence recognizes that an unborn child is capable of experiencing pain by not later than 20 weeks after fertilization,” no evidence is provided.

In two separate studies, one done by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and the other by both Durham and Lancaster Universities in England, demonstrated that unborn babies showed expressions of pain at 24 weeks, not 20.

This is just the latest effort by Texas’ Republican legislature to restrict access to abortion and contraception. Over 800 protestors took to the state capital on Sunday and Monday morning to protest the drastic measure against women’s access to abortion resources. “Everything about the process related to these abortion regulation bills has smelled like partisan politics,” said Houston Democratic representative Jessica Farrar. “Proponents of the bill have failed to demonstrate any evidence that the regulations imposed by these bills are necessary. Nor have they expressed any sign of responsible governance in ensuring that women will continue to be able to access safe and legal abortion care.”

SB 5 will now proceed to the Senate, where Republicans hold a majority. Democrats are expected to try to filibuster the bill once it reaches the Senate floor on Tuesday.

AP Photo/, Rodolfo Gonzalez

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  • sigrid28

    Texas Democrats plan an all day filibuster to ensure that this terrible bill cannot be voted on before the Senate is scheduled to recess. If they succeed, the example of the way pro-choice activists and Democrats in Texas have rallied to secure women’s health care should stand as a beacon to other states where not only women’s rights, but voters’ rights and workers’ rights, among others, are under assault.

  • zappa24

    Laubenberg equated a rape kit with abortion during debate when an amendment to her bill that would have allowed exceptions for rape was introduced.

    • Lynda Groom

      Who has the job of watering her twice a week? The woman is way beyond stupid and into fantasy land.

      • midway54

        Indeed. The video clip I saw of her speaking in the chamber displayed a grossly inarticulate female trying, apparently, to speak from notes that obviously were of no help to her. It must be a painful experience to endure life in the Loon Star State for the minority of sensible citizens there.

        • jmprint

          And to think we will be paying for her retirement, such a said thing.

  • Independent1

    The most unfortunate thing here is that legislators that think that they are saving lives by voting for a ban on abortion are really doing just the opposite. The likelihood is that more women will die from botched abortions in back alleys or somewhere else where they can be gotten on the black market; than the ban will force women to carry a fetus to term. It seems clear that those voting for abortion bans are too young to know very much about what the abortion situation was like before Roe vs Wade; it was not a pretty picture with the deaths of women dying during an abortion a very frequent news item. If these uneducated legislators really think that voting in an abortion ban is going to keep a woman who is determined not to carry a fetus to term to not seek out someway to get that abortion – they are very delusional. So if this ban is voted in, Texas can look forward to a far higher incidence of women dying during abortions than they well ever see the saving of the lives of fetuses because of this legislation.

  • JDavidS

    All part of the RepubliCON rebranding…You know…where they reach out to women and minorities? Seems the only time they “reach out” to these groups is to slap them.

    • Lynda Groom

      Indeed, it kind of defines bitch slap does it not.

  • Dominick Vila

    If this is an example of what the GOP considers a strategy to portray the Republican party as an inclusive party, they might as well buy a few samurai swords and consider ritual hara-kiri as their final solution.

  • Rick2101

    Abortion is a decision between a woman and her doctor, no one else.

    Just because of a relatively small contribution in the beginning of the process, the man does NOT have an equal say in the matter

  • latebloomingrandma

    Did anyone ever consider “fetal pain” during the birth process? After all, that poor baby uses it’s fragile head as a battering ram for several hours.

  • howa4x

    Texas once again proves that the religious right is in control of the state. Roe/Wade is settled law except in a republican state. Between making anti immigrant statements, and anti women laws the republicans there are counting on white evangelicals to carry the day in the next elections. Problem for them is they have just ignited the anger in everyone else. Let’s see if they put more money in the budget to care for teenage mothers. I bet not, since in their form of Christianity, crossing the sexual line condemns a young woman to a life of perpetual poverty for their sin.

  • Lovefacts

    We’ll be returning to the era of coat hangers, butchers, sterility, and death. I’ve said it before that Republicans know nothing about our country’s history or their own party’s.

    As for the RNC, their historical stands had much to recommend it to liberals. They were not only in the forefront of women’s rights, but those of racial equality and religious freedom. For example: Planned Parenthood was started funded by religious leaders and wealthy Republicans and their Party, not the Dems. They believed the only way to stop unwanted pregnancies was education and prevention.

    In many ways, this lack of historical knowledge is the most frightening to me and it should be to any thinking individual. I sometimes wonder if we aren’t heading into another Dark Age. One where a few of the super-wealthy subjugate the rest and use religion and control of the economy to do so, because like now, knowledge and understanding of the world was lost.
    This time it won’t be the barbarians at Rome’s gates, but frightened people who believe that the party feeding their fears, which uses that fear to turn it into hate of anything different from them that will be our country’s downfall.

  • Landsende

    What the GOP stands for:
    1. Pandering to the NRA and gun manufacturers so they can sell more guns and ammo.
    2. Pandering to big corporations so they can continue to move jobs overseas, destroy unions, pay lower wages for the jobs left in the United States and do away with regulations that protect the environment and consumer safety.
    3. Pandering to the so called Christian Conservatives by taking away women’s right to choose then cutting social safety nets after they are born.
    4. Pandering to the tea party who are nothing more than shills for Grover Norquist and the Koch brothers.
    5. Pandering to immigration advocates not because the really want immigration but because they want their votes.
    6. Pandering to the 1% by cutting their taxes and subsidizing big corporations but raising the taxes on the the middle class and wanting to cut Social Security and Medicare to pay for these tax cuts.

  • jmprint

    The problem with republicans is that they do not give women enough credit to make decision for themselves. This is a very difficult decision a woman has to make and live with the rest of her life, and if she is in this predicament no body has the right to IMPOSE their thoughts or views on how she should handle her affairs. SO republicans get a life and learn to deal with your own problems.

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  • catnip2430

    Republican State Representative Jodie Laubenberg, a co-sponsor of SB 5, said, “This bill will ensure that women are given the highest standard of health care in a very vulnerable time in their life.”, all I have to say is: “What !?”