On Wednesday the Texas House approved a bill that would significantly reduce access to abortion across the state, despite nationally publicized opposition by the state's Democratic Party. It joins a growing number of states atempting to restrict abortion procedures, despite the right to abortion provided by the 1973 Roe v. Wade Supreme Court case.
The Texas bill would ban abortions after 20 weeks, and restrict when women can take abortion pills. It would also only allow abortions in surgical facilities, and require doctors to have admitting privileges at area hospitals. These provisions would likely close 37 of the state's 42 abortion clinics because the cost of compliance would be too high.
The legislation would allow exceptions to the 20-week ban if a woman's life were in danger, but a proposal to also allow exceptions in the case of rape or incest were rejected.
A 13-hour filibuster by Texas state Sen. Wendy Davis drew national attention to the bill when it was previously proposed, but is unlikely to be successfully derailed a second time. Gov. Rick Perry supports it and called a second special session of the Texas legislature after Davis's filibuster ran out the clock on the first. The Republican-controlled Senate is expected to approve the legislation as early as Friday.
Following the House's passage of the bill, Perry said in a statement, "The tremendous outpouring of support for this legislation has demonstrated how Texas stands for life, and I commend everyone who wore blue, turned out and spoke up in support of life in our state."
The Texas law will add it to the list states that have recently passed legislation restricting abortion access. Several Republican-controlled states maintain that they have the right to craft their own abortion legislation within their borders, despite Roe v. Wade legalizing the procedure.
Last week, as a part of the state budget, Ohio Republican Gov. John Kasich signed new abortion restrictions into law. Women in the state will now be required to undergo an ultrasound before an abortion, and an abortion clinic's ability to transfer patients to public hospitals will be limited. It would also effectively defund Planned Parenthood and other family planning groups.
Wisconsin Republican Gov. Scott Walker also signed a bill last week that would restrict abortions in his state, requiring doctors to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 minutes of their clinic. The law took effect Monday, but has been temporarily blocked by a judge after Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin filed a suit saying the bill was unconstitutional because it distinguished abortion doctors from those who performed other medical procedures.
Abortion proponents say the laws in all three states are unconstitutional because they violate the right to abortion before a baby can survive outside the mother's womb allowed by Roe v. Wade. Democrats also point to the legislation as further evidence that the Republican Party is out of touch with voters.
In reference to the Wisconsin bill, Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards said the organization was committed to fighting existing and future abortion restrictions:
Whether during special legislative sessions, at midnight votes, or in courthouses across the country, Planned Parenthood is fighting deeply unpopular and dangerous attacks on women's health every step of the way … The health and safety of American women are at stake — and that is why this unconstitutional law cannot be allowed to stand.
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