Abortion Legislation
1:35 pm
Thu August 29, 2013

State Health Council Hears Public Testimony About Abortion Clinic Restrictions

Update (4:30) Both sides of the abortion issue were shocked after the State Health Services Council failed to vote on rules attached to the new law requiring clinics performing abortions to adhere to a new set of facility requirements.

"This was very unusual and unexpected and hasn’t happened for us in recent history as far as we can recall," said Carrie Williams with Texas State Health Services.

Though there was no vote taken, this will not prevent the law from taking effect.

The Texas Department of State Health Services has until Jan. 1 to finalize sections of the bill addressing an ambulatory-surgical requirement and admitting doctors privileges.

Original (1:35 p.m.) Both sides of the abortion issue are once again speaking up about the controversial abortion law as the State Health Services Council finalizes the restrictions.

The legislature passed the abortion measure, which gained the national spotlight, earlier this summer. The law is based on a set of restrictions placed on facilities that perform abortions, but Austin abortion rights supporter Ora Houston said the council does have some wiggle room:

"Like grandfathering in some of our already very well-equipped facilities that preform abortions now, they could give a little bit more time for people to come up with the standards," Houston said.

The standards will also require a clinic's hallways to be widened, which in many cases would mean a complete structural re-design.

"One recommendation that we did make was adding a definition of active admitting privileges," said John Seago with the Texas Right to Life.

Seago said having it defined would make it easier to criminally enforce.

Groups like Planned Parenthood are following every step in the process for a different reason. Planned Parenthood’s Sarah Wheat said she is certain the law will end up in court by mid to late September.

The State Health Services Council will set the rules for the ambulatory surgical center and admitting privileges restrictions this week. The Texas Medical Board will address the 20-week fetal pain and chemical abortion component of the bill in the coming week.