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Special Session: Anti-Choice Legislation Threatens Health Care for Texas Families

You can take action on this issue today - sign petitions by Planned Parenthood and NARAL Pro-Choice Texas and let your lawmakers know how you feel on these bills.

Governor Rick Perry has added legislation on the "regulation of abortion procedures, providers and facilities" to the special session. The laws proposed would severely limit health care access for Texas families. Hearings on the legislation start today in the Texas Legislature, first in the Texas Senate at 3:45pm.

There are a number of provisions that may be rolled into an omnibus anti-choice bill. The Texas Tribune has a well detailed round-up:

Hegar’s Senate Bill 5 and its House companion, Republican Rep. Jodie Laubenberg's House Bill 60, includes:

  • The so-called preborn pain measure that would ban abortions after 20 weeks of gestation, which Hegar and Laubenberg have filed separately as SB 13 and HB 16.
  • The abortion facilities measure requiring the procedure to be performed in ambulatory surgical centers, which Sen. Bob Deuell, R-Greenville, has filed as SB 24 in the special session.
  • A measure requiring doctors who perform abortions to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of the abortion facility, which Sen. Larry Taylor, R-Friendswood, filed in the regular session.
  • measure requiring doctors to administer an abortion inducing drug, RU-486, in person, and comply with the regimen outlined by the Food and Drug Administration. Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston, has filed the bill as SB 18 in the special session.

There is some question as to whether or not all these provisions of law match Governor Perry's call in the special session. The most controversial one during the regular session of the Legislature was the "abortion facilities" measure. This law would shut down 37 of the state's 42 facilities where families can have access to legal health care procedures. As Huffington Post has reported, this is similar to laws passed around the country.

The Dallas Morning News published a story about a study that looked at how Texas' sonogram laws have already reduced access to women's health care in Texas:

A new study reported that some women have experienced hardships from the state’s new 24-hour waiting period for an abortion. Researchers at the University of Texas conducted the study with Ibis Reproductive Health, a Massachusetts research group that supports “women’s reproductive autonomy.” 

They interviewed more than 300 women seeking abortions at clinics in six Texas cities between August and December 2012. The women reported traveling an average of 42 miles to obtain an abortion. Nearly a third of the women said the waiting period negatively affected their “emotional well-being.”