STATEMENT: NARAL Pro-Choice Texas Stands With Abortion Providers In Their Lawsuit Against Senate Bill 8

For Release: 7-20-2017

Contact: sharmeen@prochoicetexas.org

Texas — On Thursday, a coalition of abortion providers, represented by the Center for Reproductive Rights and Planned Parenthood Federation of America, filed a lawsuit against the State of Texas challenging a provision of Senate Bill 8 that bans an extremely safe and medically approved method of abortion. Heather Busby, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Texas, released the following statement —

“NARAL Pro-Choice Texas is proud to support Texas abortion providers and our partners at the Center for Reproductive Rights and Planned Parenthood in their fight against the cruel and restrictive SB 8. When politicians ban safe medical procedures, it does nothing to increase health and safety and is an outright attack on Texans’ access to abortion. SB 8 criminalizes physicians for practicing their best medical judgment and serves as a dangerous intrusion into the doctor-patient relationship.

This law is another in a long line of abortion restrictions pushed by Texas’ anti-choice leadership and legislators, whose true intent is to make abortion illegal in our state. This lawsuit comes as those same anti-abortion lawmakers push for even more dangerous restrictions during the special legislative session.

Yet again, Texas taxpayers will have to foot the bill for the irresponsible and shameful antics of anti-choice legislators. It is long past time for lawmakers to stop playing politics with Texans’ health care.”

One Year Later, Our Fight Continues Stronger Than Ever

Today I’m filled with emotion remembering some of the biggest moments in our movement for reproductive freedom in Texas. Four years ago this past Sunday, thousands of us filled the Capitol building with our voices, killing the bill Sen. Wendy Davis spoke against for 13 hours.

That bill—House Bill 2—eventually passed and our state lost more than half of its abortion clinics. One year ago today, I cried tears of joy with my staff and colleagues in the now-reopened Whole Woman’s Health of Austin clinic when the Supreme Court struck down two of the most harmful restrictions in HB 2.

Unfortunately, we do not have time for much nostalgia because in 21 days, the Legislature is coming back for a special session and Gov. Greg Abbott has promised to put even more abortion restrictions on the agenda. We need you fighting with us at the Capitol in July. Will you contribute $25 to NARAL Pro-Choice Texas today?

During the regular legislative session, anti-abortion lawmakers passed another horribly restrictive law that requires health providers to bury or cremate all embryonic and fetal tissue and criminalizes the most common abortion procedure after 13 weeks. And with more regulations to come, we need your help to fight back. Will you become part of NARAL Pro-Choice Texas’ legislative defense today?

With your help, we will keep fighting for our reproductive freedoms at the Capitol. Thank you for being with us through the years, and being there for abortion access once again.

Proud to continue fighting with you,

Heather Busby

 

STATEMENT: Gov. Abbott Announces More Devastating Attacks on Abortion Access for Special Session

For Release: 6-6-2017

Contact: Sharmeen Aly, sharmeen@prochoicetexas.org

Austin, TX — Today, Gov. Greg Abbott announced a special session to begin July 18 and laid out several pieces of anti-abortion legislation as his priorities, including a ban on private insurance coverage for abortion, burdensome reporting requirements for abortion providers and further regulations on how governments can contract with organizations like Planned Parenthood.

Gov. Abbott also signed into law SB 8, a cruel and shameful anti-abortion bill that severely restricts access to health care and effectively bans second trimester abortions.

Heather Busby, executive director at NARAL Pro-Choice Texas, released the following statement upon the announcement —

“It is disgusting and shameful that Gov. Abbott is wasting taxpayer dollars to force through even more regulations on our reproductive freedoms, especially after signing such a harmful bill in SB 8. And it is even more despicable that he is using the special session to systematically deny our human rights and civil liberties, wrenching away local control, attacking transgender people, forcing through school vouchers, and taking away our ability to unionize.

Restricting access to vital health care and targeting medical providers is cruel, hateful and dangerous. Gov. Abbott’s priorities for the special session jeopardize Texans’ health and safety and disproportionately impact low-income Texans, people of color and their families, and young people.

There is nothing ‘pro-life’ about denying health care to those who need it. Our reproductive rights are not political bargaining chips to be traded away.”

Talking Points for Healthy Texas Women Hearing in Lubbock

Thanks for your interest in attending Friday’s hearing for public comment on Healthy Texas Women, the state’s women’s health program. Sample talking points are below. RSVP here if you plan on attending the hearing.

Every Texan deserves access to comprehensive health care, no matter where they live. 

Politicians do not belong in the exam room and they should not be in the business of regulating where people go to access health care. 

Texans across the state rely on Planned Parenthood to provide them with comprehensive reproductive health care. 

Texas would rather give family planning dollars to manipulative, non-medical crisis pregnancy centers than to legitimate health care providers. 

Politically motivated attacks on Texans’ reproductive health care must stop. 

No one should have their basic health care taken away. Shame on you Texas for attacking access to health care once again. 

Every Texan deserves to choose their own provider, regardless of income.

Texas is facing a maternal mortality crisis — why do officials want to make it harder to access health care? 

Since Texas kicked Planned Parenthood out of the Healthy Texas Women program, nearly 30,000 fewer Texans have received birth control, cancer screenings and other vital care through the program. 

Instead of attacking abortion providers, Texas should focus on making sure people have the resources available to build and maintain strong families. 

2017 Legislative Wrap Up

On Memorial Day, the 85th Legislature adjourned their regular session. While we wait to see if the governor will call them into special session, the immediate threat from the right-wing “Freedumb Caucus” has returned to the gerrymandered districts from whence it came. We know the attacks on reproductive health care and access to abortion in this state will continue, but so will our resistance.

The most obvious result of the regular legislative session is Texas will now have new laws that impact how doctors in Texas can care for their patients and access to abortion at 14 weeks and beyond will be severely restricted, if not totally inaccessible, without a legal challenge. Once again, the legislature has pushed through an unconstitutional, omnibus abortion bill, Senate Bill 8, which was amended on the House floor to contain multiple medically unnecessary regulations on the provision of abortion care. However, most striking was the brazenness in which the anti-abortion zealots discarded any pretense of caring about “women’s health” and the success they had due to fear or lack of courage by the Republican majority in both chambers of the legislature.  

This session, Pandering Dan Patrick not only was intent upon pushing private school vouchers and the highly discriminatory and hateful bathroom bill, but of his 30 legislative priorities, he included three anti-abortion measures. The Texas Senate managed to railroad them all through with little deliberation, but not without a strong fight from pro-choice activists, including shattered glass tables, banner drops and Handmaids infiltrating the gallery.  

What were once thought of as reasonable exceptions to the most stringent anti-abortion laws are now under direct attack. During the debate on SB 8, Rep. Matt Schaefer (R- The Worst Matt) filed an amendment to remove the already very narrow exception for abortion past 20 weeks in the case of fetal anomalies that are not compatible with life. If it had passed, his amendment would have forced a pregnant person to continue a pregnancy until a miscarriage, stillbirth, or life endangerment. The amendment was ultimately defeated, but more than 65 members of the Texas House supported it.  

Finally, the legislature maintained  funding for “Alternatives to Abortion” by allocating $9.15 million per year to this program, with the potential for the agency to increase that amount by another $10 million per year. The “Alternatives to Abortion” budget item funds the Texas Pregnancy Care Network, which is an organization set up to funnel money to crisis pregnancy centers, which are organizations that purport to help pregnant people but in reality use any means they can to deny access to abortion, including lies and scare tactics.

The news was not all bad! There were a few silver linings as good bills passed and we will continue to work with our partners in the Trust. Respect. Access coalition to offer a better vision for reproductive health care policy in Texas.

Good Bills Passed:

SB 1599: Sen. Borris Miles/Rep. Shawn Thierry

This bill creates standards for more transparency around the reporting of information and investigation into maternal mortality cases. NARAL Pro-Choice Texas supports this bill because it raises awareness of the increasing maternal mortality rate. Texas currently has the highest maternal mortality rate in the developed world.

SB 790: Sen. Borris Miles/Rep. Donna Howard

This bill continues the Women’s Health Advisory Committee, responsible for overseeing the implementation of the Healthy Texas Women program. NARAL Pro-Choice Texas supports this bill because it promotes state health agency accountability and transparency.

HB 2466: Rep. Sarah Davis/Sen. Joan Huffman

This bill ensures that screening for maternal depression is covered under the child health plan, regardless of whether the mother is also an enrollee. NARAL Pro-Choice Texas supports this bill because it gives attention to the mental health of the mother following childbirth and ensures she receives adequate care.

SB 77: Sen. Jane Nelson/Rep. Carol Alvarado

This bill authorizes a court to terminate a person’s parental rights based on a criminal conviction for sexual assault if the termination is in the best interests of the child. NARAL Pro-Choice Texas supports this bill because it establishes rape as grounds to terminate parental rights. Companion: HB 1766, HB 1812

SB 257: Sen. Van Taylor/Rep. Tony Dale

This bill corrects an evidentiary imbalance between the standard for obtaining a civil protective order based on sexual assault, stalking, or human trafficking and the standard for later modifying or terminating the order. NARAL Pro-Choice Texas supports this bill because it eliminates loopholes in protective order proceedings. Companion: HB 472

HB 281: Rep. Donna Howard/Sen. Joan Huffman

This bill establishes a statewide electronic tracking system for sexual assault evidence kits. NARAL Pro-Choice Texas supports this bill because it increases transparency between law enforcement agencies and sexual assault victims.

HB 1729: Rep. Victoria Neave/Sen. Sylvia Garcia

This bill establishes a program to monitor and test evidence for rape kits. NARAL Pro-Choice Texas supports this bill because it provides more transparency to hold the state accountable in prosecuting cases of sexual assault.

Bad Bills Passed:

SB 8: Sen. Charles Schwertner

This bill will drastically affect the provision of abortion after 14 weeks of pregnancy. It targets abortion providers unfairly and is yet another unconstitutional bill restricting abortion access. The bill’s provisions include:

  • Copy of federal ban on intact dilation and extraction procedure
  • Prohibition on donation of embryonic or fetal tissue
  • Requirement that embryonic and fetal tissue be buried
  • Mandatory monthly electronic reporting by the physician
  • Legal definition of “abortion” changed
  • Criminalizes use of surgical instruments in the dilation and extraction procedure, the most common and safe method of pregnancy termination after 14 weeks

SB 4: Sen. Charles Perry

This bill prohibits sanctuary cities in Texas and requires compliance with federal immigration authorities and allows the attorney general to remove an elected official who refuses to comply. It also allows campus, local and state police officers to question a person’s citizenship during the most routine stops, for example a traffic stop, including questioning children. NARAL Pro-Choice Texas opposes this bill because it undermines public safety and forces undocumented Texans, their friends and families further into the shadows. This bill intimidates immigrant Texans from accessing basic services, including reproductive health care, and also undermines community policing by forcing local law enforcement agencies to act as federal immigration officers. We oppose any measure that tears apart families, which is exactly what SB 4 will do.