Texas Considers More Abortion Limits After Clinic Closures

Apr 29, 2015
David Martin Davies / TPR News

AUSTIN — Two years after Texas adopted sweeping abortion restrictions despite Wendy Davis’ star-making filibuster, Republicans are pushing a smaller encore of additional limits for new Gov. Greg Abbott to sign within the next month.

New battlegrounds over abortion access for minors and insurance don’t pack the same impact of a 2013 measure that would leave as few as eight abortion facilities in Texas if a federal appeals court upholds stringent new clinic standards. That decision is potentially still weeks out.

But while other conservative states such as Kansas and Tennessee have moved to the front line of national abortion politics, Texas Republicans are signaling they are far from finished. One bill up for discussion Wednesday would hold doctors or counselors criminally liable if they were found to have coerced a woman into ending a pregnancy. It was proposed by a first-term Republican who says she was pressured into an abortion as a teenager.

Ryan E. Poppe

A Senate committee at the State Capitol has taken up a bill that would allow Texas to opt out of coverage for abortions under insurance plans purchased through the Affordable Care Act, but some members of the Senate State Affairs Committee see the bill as an effort to make abortions uninsurable.

Heated Abortion Debate In Texas House Affects Health Agency Bill

Apr 24, 2015
Wikipedia Commons

Debate on legislation to re-evaluate a state health agency morphed into a fight over abortion in the Texas House on Thursday, and the bill was pulled down after a pair of anti-abortion amendments were added to the bill over the author’s objections. 

The amendments, authored by state Rep. Matt Schaefer, R-Tyler, included one that would ban abortions of fetuses with genetic abnormalities after 20 weeks. Democrats and the bill’s author, state Rep. Four Price, R-Amarillo, had objected, complaining the amendments weren’t relevant to the bill. 

Ryan Poppe / TPR News

AUSTIN — Texas, like many other conservative states, has strived to make it difficult for women to have abortions. Recent state laws have forced dozens of clinics to close and left some regions without a place for women to go.

But Texas has one option that makes abortions relatively accessible, one that between 300 and 500 pregnant teenagers use every year. Instead of seeking parental consent to terminate a pregnancy, girls younger than 18 can ask a court for approval under legal conditions less stringent than in many other states.

About 20 percent of the abortions performed on minors in Texas in 2013 came through this court process, about double the proportion elsewhere.

Soon, though, the so-called “judicial bypass” may become less accommodating.

Conservatives are now targeting the teenage cases as part of their latest legislative assault on abortion. New bills introduced in the current session would make it harder for girls to prove they shouldn't have to seek parental permission and more difficult for courts to give approval.

Hispanic Chamber of Commerce

WASHINGTON  — Congress can get so busy that senators and their staffs don’t always have time to scrutinize bills they pass and letters they sign — or so it seemed this week, anyway. Two episodes left Democrats blushing, some Republicans muttering under their breath, and taxpayers perhaps wondering what those well-educated people do on Capitol Hill.

First, Republicans ridiculed Democrats for claiming they somehow missed a key provision in a bill filed two months ago. The bill, unanimously approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee, would combat human sex trafficking.