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

For Release: 6-6-2017

Contact: Sharmeen Aly, [email protected]

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.”

STATEMENT: Texas Legislature Advances Omnibus Anti-Abortion Bill

Texas Legislature Advances Cruel and Shameful Anti-Abortion Bill That Severely Restricts Access to Health Care

For Release: 5-26-2017

Contact: Sharmeen Aly, [email protected]

AUSTIN, TX — Today, the Texas Senate voted 22 to 9 to accept the House amendments added to Senate Bill 8, an omnibus bill that would require burial or cremation of embryonic and fetal tissue, ban the use of fetal tissue for research and ban an extremely safe and medically approved method of abortion. With today’s vote, the bill is now headed for Governor Greg Abbott’s desk. Heather Busby, executive director at NARAL Pro-Choice Texas, released the following statement upon passage —

“In a complete disregard for previous court rulings, including last year’s Supreme Court decision reaffirming the right to an abortion, the Texas Legislature has passed another dangerous bill that will place an undue burden on people seeking an abortion. Texas taxpayers will now have to pay for expensive litigation because lawmakers insist on passing bills they know are unconstitutional, simply to appease an extremist anti-choice lobby.

SB 8 effectively bans second trimester abortions and will make abortion care immensely harder to access. This bill does nothing to benefit health and safety and is a dangerous intrusion into the doctor-patient relationship. Politics have no place in the exam room.

SB 8 severely restricts access to abortion and shames and stigmatizes people who have abortions. This is another shameful measure by the Texas Legislature.”

STATEMENT: Texas House Committee Hears HB 1113, a Ban on Private Insurance Coverage for Abortion

Texas House Committee Hears HB 1113, a Ban on Private Insurance Coverage for Abortion

For Release: 5-3-2017

Contact: Sharmeen Aly, [email protected]

Austin, TX — Today, the Texas House State Affairs Committee heard House Bill 1113, which would ban private insurance plans from covering abortion care. The bill also does not make exceptions for rape, incest or fetal anomalies and applies to all health plans offered in Texas. Heather Busby, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Texas, released the following statement:

“The Texas Legislature should not be in the business of banning people’s access to health care, including abortion, based on their income. HB 1113 threatens Texans’ health and safety and disproportionately impacts low-income Texans, people of color and their families, and young people.

HB 1113 jeopardizes the ability of private citizens to use their own money to buy health insurance that includes abortion coverage, making it so that Texans must purchase supplemental coverage instead. No one knows in advance what surgeries or medication they may need in the future, so why do we expect Texans to know if they will need an abortion? Putting restrictions on insurance coverage for abortion is dangerous and disregards that every person’s pregnancy is different. Pregnant Texans deserve access to the full range of reproductive health care, including abortion, no matter what kind of insurance they have.

We stand against all bans that deny access to vital health care.”

Texas Officials Push Harmful Measure That Would Require Fetal Tissue to Be Buried or Cremated

Abbott op rescue meeting 2
On July 1, at the urging of Gov. Greg Abbott, the Texas Health and Human Services Commission published proposed rules that would require burial or cremation of embryonic and fetal tissue remains following an abortion or miscarriage. These rules dictate how healthcare facilities must dispose of tissue at all stages of pregnancy, with no exceptions for genetic testing, research or pathology and no consideration for best medical practices or patients’ wishes or religious beliefs. These rules have nothing to do with the safe practice of modern medicine, but instead are part of a nationwide effort to enact unnecessary regulations that restrict access to abortion.

The health agency could update these rules without making them a backdoor ban on abortion by holding public hearings, consulting with medical providers and writing rules that follow modern medicine. The addition of a non-medical ritual to current clinical practice only serves to further interfere with a patient’s autonomy and ability to make their own decisions about their medical care.

Every patient makes the decision to have an abortion for their own reasons based on their own experience. Instead of passing laws that further complicate a patient’s experience and force them to consider burial services or death certificates, we should focus on making sure that patients are supported and respected in their decision. Read more about why these rules are a problem here.

The public has until July 30 to comment on these rules, which are set to go into effect by September 1, 2016. Make your voice heard by sending an email to [email protected] with the subject line: “Comments on special waste from health care-related facilities.”

We encourage you to share your personal experience in your comments. Here is a sample letter you can send:

Dear Ms. Hughes,
The rules have nothing to do with the safe practice of modern medicine, but instead are part of a nationwide effort to enact unnecessary regulations to restrict access to abortion. Health care providers like hospitals and abortion clinics currently follow the state’s standards for the sanitary disposal of medical waste including embryonic and fetal tissue. The addition of non-medical ritual to current clinical practice only serves to further interfere with a patient’s autonomy and decision making in their own medical care.

Every patient makes the decision to have an abortion for their own reasons based on their own lived experience. Instead of passing laws that further complicate a patient’s experience and force them to consider burial services or death certificates, we should focus on making sure that patients are supported and respected in their decision.

Furthermore, families going through miscarriage or needing to terminate a pregnancy for medical reasons deserve the respect of having the option to have genetic testing performed on the embryonic and fetal tissue so they can successfully carry a healthy pregnancy to term in the future. Infants and children also benefit from medical research on embryonic and fetal tissue.

These rules also violate religious freedom. Not all faiths have the same tradition and ritual, and forcing a patient to violate the tenets of their faith to receive healthcare is unconscionable.

Finally, the regulations as published appear to require that a public death certificate be filed, violating patient privacy. The regulations turn what is currently a private matter–a medical procedure–into public record. This violates the patient’s constitutional right to privacy. Without a full opportunity to comment and receive feedback, healthcare facilities are left in limbo–not knowing if a death certificate will be required before cremation, or if these rules violate statutory dictates that families be allowed to take miscarried and stillborn fetuses home with them.

Any attempt to ban certain types of scientific research deserves to happen in the light of day,not through a rushed rulemaking process. Gov. Abbott should have the courage to rescind these rules.

The Agency should rescind these draft rules and not publish a final version for adoption until the Legislature can provide it with direct authority to do so.

Signed,
Your name & address

On August 4 at 9 a.m., DSHS is holding a public hearing in Austin on these rules. Sign our petition to make your voice heard and tell state officials that you don’t support medically unnecessary regulations enacted to restrict abortion access. Your comments will be included in our testimony during the hearing. You can also RSVP here to attend the hearing in person.

Republicans Vow to “Redouble” Efforts to End Abortion in Texas

Monday’s Supreme Court ruling was an incredible victory for Texans’ health and safety–and it doesn’t stop there. Not only does the decision mean that Texas abortion clinics can stay open, it has far-reaching impacts that effect people across the country. Following the decision, the Supreme Court declined challenges from Wisconsin and Mississippi that would have led to the implementation of similar restrictions in those states, protecting clinics and providers.

While this win is a turning point in the fight for reproductive freedom, it is also fueling anti-choice activists in their preparation for legislative session in January. Show your support for pro-choice policies with a donation today.

In a tweet, Governor Greg Abbott vowed to “redouble” his commitment to restricting abortion access.

And he isn’t alone. During a press conference in Houston, Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick told reporters, “We’re going to go through [the decision] line by line and see what it is that we can address in a way that a Supreme Court would approve.” Whatever the outcome of this, he assured them, “We will be all in.”

Prominent anti-choice activists echoed Patrick, saying that “this ruling will help us to focus on what our goal is,” moving forward.

They pledged to pass a procedural ban in the upcoming legislative session, which would disrupt providers’ ability to provide basic medical care should it succeed.

Building upon the Planned Parenthood witch-hunts, they plan to focus on “the state interest about fetal life.” Citing precedent from a Supreme Court ruling in 2007, it is clear that they believe that procedure bans and restrictions focused on “fetal life” will be harder to challenge.

And it isn’t just legislation. Speaking on their Facebook page, a representative from a statewide anti-choice group said, “We need our cultural conversation to be about the pre-born child, not about how many miles it takes to get to an abortion clinic.”

Anti-choice activists in Texas are doubling down on their efforts in Texas. They have a plan in place to shift not only state laws, but also conversations around abortion in Texas.

We can’t let this happen, but we can’t stop it without you. Can you donate today to support proactive, pro-choice policy at the Texas legislature?

NARAL Pro-Choice Texas is already leading the fight for reproductive freedom in Texas, and we aren’t going to let them steal this win. We are actively working to challenge abortion stigma in Texas, stigma fosters the environment that allows harmful abortion restrictions to flourish.