The special session has taken on some added weight this week with the addition of several bills splitting the legislature from its initial redistricting focus. Most controversially, the fetal pain abortion bill has been revitalized in Senate Bill 5.
Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston, has one of about six bills that address some aspect of abortion in the special session. Patrick said his bill would hold institutions like Planned Parenthood to strict guidelines when dispensing the Plan B abortion pillthe abortion pill (mifeprestone), a set of pills that medically ends a pregnancy and can be used up to 9 weeks after the woman's last period.
Planned Parenthood is headed back to court later this month over a 2011 law that excludes the group from being listed and funded by the state-run Texas Women’s Health Program.
In 2011 lawmakers at the state capitol along with Gov. Rick Perry set in place the laws that created the state-run Texas Women’s Health Program, which excluded groups like Planned Parenthood from being listed as a provider of women’s health because of their connection to abortion.
The first non-redistricting bills have begun to trickle in at the state capitol for the special session.
So far none of the legislation has been placed on the special session agenda by Gov. Rick Perry, but the first bill unrelated to the focus of redistricting was filed by Rep. Steve Toth, R-The Woodlands.
Toth's bill was modeled after a bill filed in the regular session that makes it a crime to enforce any new federal guns laws.
A bill requiring higher standards for abortion providers has made it out of the Senate Committee on Health and Human Services and is now on the senate floor for full review.
The discussion on the matter of requiring abortion providers to have a similar setup as surgical office quickly escalated from a civil conversation to a yelling match between the author of the bill, Sen. Bob Duell, R-Greenville, and Virginia Brawn, who owns a North Texas women's clinic.
Gov. Perry's announcement this week of the "fetal pain" bill is the latest in his attempts at restricting abortion in Texas; pro-life groups applaud the announcement and pro-choice groups are kicking their opposition into high gear. The governor made his announcement at a pregnancy crisis center, but what exactly is a pregnancy crisis center, and where do they get their funding? Freelance reporter Carolyn Jones investigates. Finally, problems with state-funded CPRIT continue to surface, the latest being an $11 million grant that was not reviewed before it was handed out.
Governor Rick Perry announced that he’s backing a tougher state law against abortion. Perry is pushing for a so-called “fetal pain” law to be passed in the upcoming legislative session.
Joined by state Senator-elect Donna Campbell (R), Perry called for the new Texas law that would tighten the state’s restrictions on abortions by banning abortion after 20 weeks, which is when Perry said a fetus can feel pain.