Lawmakers Must Prioritize Proactive Bills That Expand and Protect Reproductive Health Care

For weeks, Texas lawmakers have debated measures designed explicitly to reduce access to abortion and stigmatize Texans seeking vital health care. Misinformation and ideological rhetoric abound, and politicians continue to interfere with the doctor-patient relationship. These bills are harmful, endanger the lives of Texans and blatantly disrespect physicians and patient privacy.

While bills like this are flying through the Legislature, others that actually protect and promote access to health care are languishing. As we approach a key deadline for House bills to be voted out of committee, we call on lawmakers to hold hearings on the following good bills:

  • House Bill 262 by Rep. Donna Howard respects a physician’s medical training and allows them to exercise their best medical judgement when providing abortion care to their patients. This bill ensures doctors can practice medicine without political interference by protecting them should they opt out of giving their patients state-mandated misinformation.
  • House Bill 745 by Rep. Jessica Farrar repeals Texas’ 24-hour waiting period before an abortion. This bill strikes a medically unnecessary restriction from state law and restores dignity to Texans seeking abortion care.
  • House Bill 746, also by Rep. Jessica Farrar, strikes from state law a pervasive lie peddled by the anti-abortion movement—that abortion leads to an increased risk of breast cancer. For more than a decade, Texas law has required physicians to share with their patients this baseless claim. By removing this language from statute, HB 746 ensures that patients have the accurate medical information they deserve.

In addition to holding hearings on these bills, legislators should also vote on Rep. Mary Gonzalez’s House Bill 330, which expands access to birth control for parenting minors by allowing them to consent to their own health care, and Rep. Jessica Farrar’s House Bill 747, which makes accurate information about emergency contraception available to sexual assault survivors.

These bills deserve attention and a vote. We call on lawmakers to prioritize HBs 262, 330, 745, 746 and 747 and abandon the misguided, medically inaccurate and stigmatizing legislation they have taken up so far this session. Click here to send an email directly to the chairman of the committee responsible for taking up these bills.

STATEMENT: TX House Approves an Additional $20 Million to Anti-Abortion CPCs

Texas House Approves an Additional $20 Million to Anti-Abortion Crisis Pregnancy Centers

For Release: 4-6-2017

Contact: Sharmeen Aly, [email protected]

AUSTIN, TX — During debate on the 2018-19 state budget, the Texas House approved an additional $20 million per two-year budget cycle for the Alternatives to Abortion program. This program funnels millions of tax dollars to manipulative, deceptive crisis pregnancy centers that intentionally lie to and coerce pregnant Texans.

Heather Busby, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Texas, released the following statement on the funding increase for crisis pregnancy centers—

“It is shameful that the state continues to give millions of health care dollars to non-medical entities that lie to, shame and manipulate Texans considering an abortion, especially at a time when vulnerable children are dying in foster care, public education remains chronically underfunded and cuts to Medicaid for disabled kids remain in place.

Crisis pregnancy centers are not comprehensive health centers and do not provide Texans with the full range of available options. CPCs exist to prevent people facing unintended pregnancies from accessing abortion care and delay their care to the point where they’re not able to access abortion. These centers use scare tactics and provide scientifically inaccurate information to their patients and are ultimately dangerous to the health and safety of pregnant Texans.

It is unconscionable that lawmakers voted against a budget amendment to move this money to the family planning program and instead increased funding by $20 million for ideologically motivated CPCs and refused to fund legitimate health care providers.”

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Lawmakers dismissed my experience

This is a guest post from Jeni Putalavage-Ross.

Last week, I shared my family’s story at the Capitol before a panel of senators considering a bill that would ban private health insurance plans from covering abortion.

In 2010, I was pregnant with a very wanted child, but at my anatomy scan at 21 weeks, my doctors informed us that the pregnancy was incompatible with life. My husband and I decided that I would have a late-term abortion to save our child from unnecessary pain and to protect my body and mental health. I experienced complications from my termination that resulted in a week-long ICU stay, threatened my life, and resulted in $67,000 in medical bills. Luckily, I had insurance coverage and I only had to pay a small fraction of the total bill. If it were it not for that procedure and the insurance coverage, I would not be here today and I would not have been able to later have my three amazing daughters.

Photo credit: Cathlin McCullough

At the hearing, lawmakers questioned the relevance of my story, disrespecting and dismissing my family’s experience. I felt they were not open to hearing anything that might question their agenda, I don’t think they respect the fact that abortion should be a private medical decision, and I question their belief that they represent all Texans.

These senators did not care about my family’s experience and waved aside all concerns for families that need to make the difficult decision to end a wanted pregnancy. They have no respect for women that might want to end a pregnancy for personal reasons.Their desire to restrict Texans’ preferred type of insurance coverage is purely based on their desire to end all abortions. Unfortunately, it is difficult to reason with unreasonable people, debate with people who use logical fallacies, and it is nearly impossible to prove medical needs to people who don’t believe in science.

If you believe women’s reproductive decisions should not be legislated, please consider donating today to support NARAL Pro-Choice Texas’ mission. I was so relieved when I showed up at the Capitol and saw Alexa, Blake, and Maggie ready to support me before and after my testimony. If you’re like me and you can’t follow every bill and show up to every hearing, donate to this team to help them continue the work they are doing on our behalf. It is really difficult to sit and listen to misinformation and have your personal beliefs questioned and this team does it every day. I am really in awe of the dedication they show and the emotional toll they endure in order to fight for Texans.

Jeni Putalavage-Ross

ACTION ALERT: Anti-abortion bills being heard at the #txlege

The Senate is holding a public hearing on 3 anti-abortion bills at the Capitol on Wednesday. These bills are part of a broader effort to ban abortion and shame and stigmatize the people who have them. We won’t stand for this.

1. Dust off your orange and join us at the Capitol on Wednesday to make your voice heard.There will be iPad kiosks outside of the hearing room for you to register your position and sign up to testify if you would like to. You can find suggested talking points here. We’ll also have printed copies of the talking points and orange t-shirts available on Wednesday.

2. Call the legislators behind these anti-choice bills and let them know you’re against restrictions on abortion access. See the graphic below for a phone call script.

3. Send an email to your legislators here.

Call your state senators!

Instructions for Signing Up to Register and Testify

Before registering your position, you need to know the bill number, which committee is hearing the bill and the time and location of the hearing.
The bills being heard tomorrow are SB 8, SB 258, SB 415. They are being heard by the Senate Committee on Health & Human Services. The hearing starts at 8:30 AM in the Senate Chamber, located on the second floor of the Capitol.

The committee will begin taking sign ups to register and testify at 7:45 AM tomorrow morning. If you would like to submit written testimony to the committee for consideration, please bring 20 copies of your testimony.

You can register by filling out a card that will be available near the Senate Chamber entrance. When you register your opinion at the Capitol, you will provide basic contact information, specify whether you are representing yourself or an organization, register your position on the bill (support, oppose) and indicate if you will be testifying or submitting written testimony. After registering, your position has officially been entered into public record.

NARAL Pro-Choice Texas’ Statement on President Trump’s SCOTUS Nominee

For Release: 2-1-2017

Contact: Sharmeen Aly, [email protected]

AUSTIN, TEXAS — On Tuesday, President Trump announced Neil Gorsuch as his Supreme Court nominee. President Trump has repeatedly promised that his Supreme Court pick will overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 case that guaranteed our constitutional right to an abortion. Heather Busby, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Texas, released the following statement —

“By nominating Neil Gorsuch for a lifetime seat on the Supreme Court, President Trump has shown that he does not care about a person’s bodily autonomy and their right to make personal decisions for themselves. Judge Gorsuch has previously supported restricting access to birth control based on an employer’s religious preferences in two separate cases.

Texas’ anti-abortion laws have twice been challenged and heard before the U.S Supreme Court — the 1973 Roe v. Wade case, and the 2016 Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt case.

In both landmark decisions, the Supreme Court stepped in to ensure that Texans, and all Americans, are able to access their constitutionally protected right to abortion and essential family planning services. With this nomination and an anti-abortion administration in the White House, anti-abortion politicians in Texas will feel further emboldened to aggressively push their anti-choice agenda.

Neil Gorsuch is a harmful, dangerous Supreme Court nominee for every person in the country who values respect and dignity free from judgment when making their private health care decisions. The Senate must reject President Trump’s nominee.”