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SB5: Dead Anti-Abortion Bills See New Life In Special Session

Photo: Photo courtesy Planned Parenthood Greater Texas, License: N/A

Photo courtesy Planned Parenthood Greater Texas

Then there’s Perry’s own baby, the so-called “Fetal Pain Bill,” which would effectively outlaw abortion after 20 weeks post-fertilization on the basis the fetus can feel pain at this point — an assertion the Journal of American Medical Association doesn’t support. Pressed to produce evidence that demonstrates the science behind the legislation isn’t completely dubious during a contentious three-hour Senate committee hearing last week, Hegar couldn’t point to a single study to bolster his argument. Imagine that.

Perhaps the most destructive and troubling section of the behemoth bill to the pro-choice community is the requirement that all abortion clinics be held to the same standards as ambulatory surgical centers (ASCs). As the Current wrote in March, expensive (and unnecessary) structural costs like expanded hallways and updated A/C systems, would force all but five out of the state’s 42 abortion clinics to close their doors – leaving one center for every 54,000 miles of Texas.

Here in San Antonio, only one clinic would remain open, local Lilith Fund board member Lindsay Rodriguez told the Current. Needless to say, the results would be devastating.

Considering costs (like transportation and time off work) associated with finding a new provider, Rodriguez is concerned about additional barriers to access for vulnerable city residents, “We have many on a lower-income level here and a high percentage of families who already don’t have access to medical care and insurance,” she said. “The bill would disproportionately hurt rural, immigrant, working-class, and minority women.”

The omnibus bill amounts to a massive giveaway for the anti-choice lobby, as evidenced by the uncontained excitement of Joe Pojman with Texas Alliance for Life. Pojman told the Current the suspension of the two-thirds rule creates a “whole different ballgame,” and that he, along with fellow activists, are “thrilled” at the opportunity to “increase protections for women.”

And that is precisely how anti-abortion activists and legislators justify their intentions — by claiming the measures are intended to protect women and ensure quality of care. Yet, as New Braunfels-based state Sen. Donna Campbell failed to realize during this month’s committee hearing, the Department of State Health Services heavily regulates abortion facilities in Texas and clinics have reporting requirement in place today. Overall, abortion is one of the safest – some 10 times less risky than childbirth– and most common medical procedures according to the Guttmacher Institute and the National Abortion Federation.

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