STATEMENT: Federal Court Blocks Dangerous Provision of SB 8 From Going Into Effect

Federal Court Blocks Dangerous Provision of SB 8 From Going Into Effect

For Release: 8-31-2017

Contact: Sharmeen Aly, [email protected]

Austin, TX — Today, a federal court ruled to temporarily block the enactment of a provision of Senate Bill 8 that bans the safest and most common method of abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy. A coalition of abortion providers represented by the Center for Reproductive Rights and Planned Parenthood Federation of America brought suit against SB 8 in July. Heather Busby, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Texas, released the following statement —

“NARAL Pro-Choice Texas is proud to stand with our partners in their fight against attacks on abortion access. SB 8 is part of a coordinated national strategy designed to shame people who get abortions, tie the hands of doctors and ban abortion method by method. This bill criminalizes physicians for exercising their best medical judgment and is a dangerous intrusion into the doctor-patient relationship.

Today’s ruling comes after a hateful special legislative session in which anti-choice lawmakers passed a bill that bans private insurance coverage for abortion. The courts, as well as Texans around the state, see through the Legislature’s thinly-veiled attacks that aim to make abortion inaccessible in Texas.

It is shameful that anti-choice lawmakers have no regard for established law or for people’s rights and insist on wasting precious taxpayer dollars defending laws they know to be unconstitutional. It is long past time for lawmakers to stop playing politics with our health care and stop passing measures that risk patients’ health and safety.”

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STATEMENT: Texas Will Revoke Family Planning Money Given to Anti-Abortion Organization

Texas Will Revoke Family Planning Money Given to Anti-Abortion Organization  

For Release: 8-22-2017

Contact: Sharmeen Aly, [email protected]

Austin, TX — Yesterday, it was revealed that Texas will reallocate more than $4 million of the state’s family planning budget from a grant awarded to The Heidi Group, an anti-abortion organization that provides no health care. NARAL Pro-Choice Texas has repeatedly criticized the state’s decision to award The Heidi Group this funding. Heather Busby, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Texas, released the following statement —

“The Heidi Group’s contract with HHSC demonstrates just how far Texas will go in putting politics over people, especially when it comes to reproductive health. There was nothing in The Heidi Group’s operations or history to indicate that this non-medical organization was even remotely qualified to provide reproductive health care.

Carol Everett has made several statements that demonstrate her lack of understanding of basic public health concepts, such as testifying before the state health agency that HIV and STIs can be transmitted and contracted through our water supply. Yet, the state went to extremes to withhold funds from qualified providers in order to award undeserved millions of taxpayer dollars to an ideological, anti-choice organization with ties to fake providers like crisis pregnancy centers. Tens of thousands of Texans in need of vital health care will pay the price for our state leadership’s unhealthy relationship with anti-abortion zealots like Everett.

Family planning dollars should be going directly to medical providers who have experience providing family planning and preventive care services, not anti-abortion organizations that aim to coerce and manipulate.

There must be an investigation into how and why the health department awarded The Heidi Group such a large contract that they were not qualified to fulfill.”

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Stop two anti-abortion bills from going on the House floor.

We expect that at least two anti-abortion bills, HB 214 and HB 14, will be heard before the full House floor soon. These bills are medically unnecessary and will directly harm Texas families who are already struggling to pay for healthcare costs.

HB 214 bans coverage of abortion under all health benefit plans, including private plans purchased through the Affordable Care Act Marketplace. The bill has no exceptions in cases of rape.

HB 14 prohibits local government entities including cities and counties, hospital districts, and state agencies from partnering with health providers that also perform abortions or are affiliated with an abortion provider.

Now is the time to CALL the members on the House Calendars Committee and tell them to stop these medically unnecessary bills from going to the House floor where they will undoubtedly be made worse. Feel free to use the script below:

Hi, my name is ______.
I’m calling to ask Rep. _____, who is a member of the House Calendars Committee, to REJECT sending HB 214 and HB 14 to the full Texas House floor for debate and vote.  
Lawmakers should not be rewarded for targeting low income families and stigmatizing health care. HB 214 and HB 14 have no public health benefit and will cut off access to affordable health care for people across the state. If passed, these bills will further stigmatize abortion care and negatively impact clinics that do important work in their local communities. 
 
[Insert your own story, if you like.]
 
I’m counting on the representative to do the right thing and respect pregnant Texans by STOPPING HB 214 and HB 14 from going before the full House floor. 
 
Thank you for your time.

Texas House Calendars Committee:

  • Chair, Todd Hunter: (512) 463-0672
  • Vice Chair, Donna Howard: (512) 463-0631
  • Roberto Alonzo: (512) 463-0408
  • Trent Ashby: (512) 463-0508
  • Byron Cook: (512) 463-0730
  • Sarah Davis: (512) 463-0389
  • Charlie Geren: (512) 463-0610
  • Helen Giddings: (512) 463-0953
  • Kyle Kacal: (512) 463-0412
  • Ken King: (512) 463-0736
  • Linda Koop: (512) 463-0454
  • Poncho Nevárez: (512) 463-0566
  • Chris Paddie: (512) 463-0556
  • Dade Phelan: (512) 463-0706
  • Toni Rose: (512) 463-0664

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.”

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.