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RU-486 Restrictions Bill Gets Senate Hearing

Property tax breaks for veterans leads this year's list of 10 propositions.
KUT News
Property tax breaks for veterans leads this year's list of 10 propositions.

 A bill in the Texas Senate could restrict the prescription of and distribution of the abortion drug RU-486. 

The bill is being offered by Senator Dan Patrick (R-Houston). Patrick has made abortion restrictions a priority since his election in 2006. He passed a mandatory sonogram bill in 2011. And has filed a bill this session to restrict how late a woman can have an abortion. His bill on RU-486 was presented to members of the Senate Health and Human Services Committee Tuesday.

"This is a straight forward bill. This is not before pregnancy. This is terminating a pregnancy," Patrick told the committee. "And all we’re asking is that the abortion clinics follow the federal drug administration guidelines and the manufacturers guidelines.”

Patrick invited three people to testify for the bill. Each focused on complications some women have encountered after taking it. Local OBGYN Mike Love cited a 2009 Finnish study.

  “They found a 20 percent rate of complication with medical abortion vs 5.6 with surgical abortions," Love said. "8-fold higher rate of hemorrhage. 5-fold higher rate of incomplete abortion.”

The bill would also limit the pill’s use per FDA guidelines to within first 7 weeks of a pregnancy. The pill is commonly prescribed up to 9 weeks. Dr. Al Gross is with the American college of obstetrics and gynecologists. He told Senators FDA guidelines are 13 years old. And best practices no longer use them.

He also spoke against a provision in the bill that would require doctors prescribing RU486 to enter into a treatment contract with a separate physician who would help the patient in case of any adverse side-effects.

“I think this is a badly drafted bill and would be a dangerous precedent to set for other medical procedures," Gross said. "I have never heard of a cardiologist for example being required to have a contract with a cardiovascular surgeon in case he ruptures a coronary artery placing a stent.”

Ben Philpott is the Managing Editor for KUT. Got a tip? Email him at bphilpott@kut.org. Follow him on Twitter @BenPhilpottKUT.
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