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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Statement: More than 2,600 Texans Sign Petition to Expand Access to Reproductive Health Care

For Immediate Release

Contact: Sharmeen Aly, [email protected]

On Monday afternoon, reproductive rights activists delivered a petition with more than 2,600 signatures to House Speaker Joe Straus, demanding that the Texas Legislature stop restricting abortion access and instead prioritize expanding access to reproductive health care. Heather Busby, executive director at NARAL Pro-Choice Texas, made the following statement —

“Time and time again, Texans have made it clear that they won’t stand for attacks on their reproductive rights. Since the Supreme Court struck down some of the state’s harshest abortion restrictions last summer, anti-choice legislators have ramped up their attacks on health care by introducing bills that would interfere in the doctor-patient relationship and force doctors to practice substandard medicine. Rather than playing politics with people’s private health care decisions, these legislators should listen to the majority of Texans who support access to safe, legal abortion. Our reproductive rights are not up for grabs and it’s time anti-choice politicians realized this.

The Texas Legislature should prioritize policies that improve the health and well-being of all Texans. We call on our legislators to pass measures that actually expand access to birth control and abortion care and help Texas families, such as closing the gender pay gap, fixing the broken foster care system and providing greater protections for breastfeeding parents.”

ACT NOW: Oppose SB 20, 25, and 415

At what felt like lightning speed on Wednesday, the Texas Senate passed Senate Bill 8 — a bill that bans the donation of fetal tissue for research purposes.

But it didn’t stop there.

Next, senators took their first vote on Senate Bill 415, which grossly intrudes on the doctor-patient relationship and bans a safe medical procedure. Senators take their final vote on SB 415 Monday. We also expect Senate Bill 20 — which bans insurance coverage for abortion — and Senate Bill 25 — which allows doctors to lie to their pregnant patients — to hit the floor soon.

Here’s what you can do NOW:

1. Call your senators and tell them to VOTE NO on SB 20, SB 25, and SB 415. Click here to find out who represents you and feel free to use the call script below:

Hello,

My name is [NAME] and I live in zip code [ZIP]. I am one of Senator [NAME]’s constituents.

I’m calling to ask that the senator vote NO on Senate Bill 20, 25, and 415 and stop interfering in people’s private medical decisions.

Texans must be able to make their own decisions with the advice of the doctors they trust. According to medical experts, SB 415 will do nothing to make women safer, and if passed, would harm Texans seeking abortion care. SB 20 will cut off access to abortion, especially for low-income Texans, people of color and young people; SB 25 allows doctors to lie to their pregnant patients.

[Insert your own story, if you’d like.]

I’m counting on the senator to do the right thing by respecting Texans and trusting doctors. Please vote NO on Senate Bill 20, 25 and 415.
Thank you, I appreciate your time.

2. Sign our petition demanding that lawmakers stop wasting their time on baseless, dangerous abortion restrictions and instead focus on expanding access to reproductive health care and supporting Texas families.

ACT NOW Against Rules Requiring Embryonic & Fetal Tissue Burial

On Monday, the Texas Department of State Health Services published the final rules on fetal and embryonic tissue burial, which we know serve no medical benefit and do nothing but impose an undue burden on Texans seeking abortion care. Since this summer, tens of thousands of you have submitted comments, spoken out at hearings and rallied outside the state health agency to oppose these rules, but it’s clear that the agency isn’t listening to us, or the medical community for that matter.

There’s still more you can do to make your voice heard. Right now, you can:

  1. Write a letter to the editor of your local paper. Remember to keep it within the word limit. You can use the talking points below to help you.
  1. Write or call your state lawmaker to register your opposition to this rule and any legislation. This month, Rep. Byron Cook introduced House Bill 201, which is likely to move through the legislature next session. You can find out who represents you here and use the talking points below in crafting your message.
  1. If you are interested in speaking publicly sharing your personal experience with abortion or miscarriage, (to the media, in a legal brief, at a public hearing), please email Heather Busby ([email protected]) with your contact info and we’ll discuss it further with you.
  2. Join our Legislative Action Team if you haven’t already! By signing up, you’ll get updates throughout the legislative session on other ways to get involved at the Capitol and in your local community. This week, we hosted our first Legislative Action Team call, which you can hear by clicking here.

Here are some talking points you can use in your letter to the editor or when writing or calling your lawmaker:

  • 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 to restrict access to abortion.
  • Health care providers like hospitals and abortion clinics already follow the state’s standards for the sanitary disposal of medical waste including embryonic tissue. Just like other health care providers, they work with licensed medical tissue removal professionals to ensure fetal tissue is handled respectfully and safely and in accordance with the law. 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.
  • These requirements apply to miscarriages and ectopic pregnancies and make it harder for a family’s ability to provide tissue samples for pathological examination and testing. This testing is important to get a more accurate diagnosis, which may help them successfully carry future pregnancies to term.
  • The rules unduly burden both abortion patients and providers without any discernable, proven medical benefit, which violates the U.S Supreme Court ruling in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt.
  • Every patient makes the decision to have an abortion for their own reasons based on their own lived experience.  We should focus on making sure that they are supported and respected in their decision and in their access to safe healthcare.
  • I ask that you remove politics from public health and listen to input from providers, medical practitioners and public health professionals rather than politicians when deciding public health policy.
  • Please rescind these rules or make reasonable adjustments to them – such as allowing incineration without burial – that provide for a humane and sanitary solution without unduly burdening patients and providers.