Whole Woman’s Health Corporate VP: abortion clinics don’t need more regulations

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HB 3765 is unnecessary and unfairly targets regulation against abortion providers.

In recent years the Legislature has enacted extreme restrictions targeting abortion providers, including the partial birth abortion ban in 2003 which eliminated one of Roe v. Wade’s core protections. Also in 2003, the Women’s Right to Know Act started forcing physicians to provide biased and inaccurate information regarding the abortion procedure. In 2011, The Legislature added  a 24-hour waiting period for abortion, yet another unnecessary barrier for women accessing abortion care. In 2013, the dangerous and detrimental provisions in HB 2 created substantial obstacles to safe and legal abortion care and have disproportionately impacted those Texans living in poverty and in rural and underserved areas, especially young women.

Now, HB 3765 from Rep. Jodie Laubenberg attempts to amend the Texas Medical Board’s existing regulations for parental consent for anyone seeking an abortion under the age of 18. Although these current regulations are effective and there have been no demonstrated problems, this bill exclusively targets against abortion providers.

Abortion clinics have strong safeguards in place to screen patients for family violence, human trafficking and coercion. In addition to obtaining standard medical consent, clinics engage patients of all ages in one-on-one private counseling, and comply with Chapter 171 in the Texas Health & Safety Code, which this bill would unnecessarily amend. Coercion is neither practically nor physically possible with the procedures clinics voluntarily put in place.

Abortion providers offer a safe environment free of judgment where patients are offered a private and neutral ground regardless of their age, and are in complete control of their decision to terminate or continue a pregnancy. During these private sessions, each patient meets with a patient advocate to engage in a conversation triggered by open ended questions that allow her to tell her own story without pressure or fear of consequences. If at any point during this conversation a woman claims she does not want to have an abortion, this patient will not have one. Regardless of what consent forms have been signed or notarized, her word is what truly matters.

The amendment introduced in this bill shows the legislators’ severe lack of understanding of current regulations regarding parental consent. The document titled Disclosure and consent form: Medical, Surgical, and Diagnostic Procedures Figure: 22 TAC §165.6(f) requires the initials and signatures of the patient, the physician and the parent or legal guardian. The parent’s signature is required to be notarized. Therefore, requiring the added notarization of the underage patient is not only redundant but violates her confidentiality.

No other medical providers are included in this bill. If there is a problem with minors being forced to undergo medical procedures, the state should require family medicine physicians, plastic surgeons, all ambulatory surgical centers and other medical providers to comply with the same consent regulations as abortion clinics.

All Texans deserve access to the health care they need and should not be forced to jump through numerous hoops and mountains of paperwork every time they need to access a legal, medical procedure. Quality abortion providers seek to provide the highest quality of care for their patients and would not force an abortion upon someone against their will. HB 3765 is further harassment of abortion providers.