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A Series Of Anti-Abortion Bills Is Quickly Moving Through The Texas Legislature

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Julia Reihs

Lee esta historia en español.

Bills aimed at restricting access to abortions in Texas are moving quickly through the state Legislature.

The Texas Senate already approved a slew of anti-abortion measures late last month. This week, the House heard a series of bills that would make it harder to get the procedure. The bills in the House committee were left pending, but could be approved at any time.

Dyana Limon-Mercado, executive director of Planned Parenthood Texas Votes, said there were almost 50 bills filed this year that would limit abortion rights in Texas — part of a long history of lawmakers trying to make it harder for women to get the procedure.

“For the last decade, the Legislature has been pretty ruthless in terms of their attacks on abortion access,” she said.

Among legislation House members heard this week was a so-called “trigger ban," one of Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick’s legislative priorities. House Bill 1280 would outlaw abortions immediately and without exception if the U.S. Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade, the legal precedent for abortion rights. It would also create steep criminal penalties for any doctor who performs the procedure. A Senate version of the bill, Senate Bill 9, already passed in that chamber.

The sponsor of the House version, state Rep. Giovanni Capriglione, R-Southlake, said his bill would remove the need for a special session if a ruling came down from the country’s highest court.

“If the Supreme Court says that abortions are illegal,” he said, “then abortions are illegal.”

During a contentious hearing Wednesday in the House Public Health committee, Capriglione said he stood by the bill's language, which does not provide exceptions, even to save the mother's life.

“Abortion is not health care” he said. “Abortion is not a service. Abortion, quite frankly, is murder."

The committee also heard another one of Patrick's priorities: the so-called “heartbeat bill,” which would effectively ban abortions at six weeks. Limon-Mercado said this is before most women even know they are pregnant. She said by the time someone notices she missed a period, takes a test, schedules an appointment for an abortion and waits the required 24 hours, she is likely already out of time.

“A six-week ban is a de facto outright ban for most people,” she said. “This is a pretty extreme bill in that sense.”

Another House bill that could move forward soon places more restrictions on when providers can administer a medication abortion, which is done through pills in the first trimester. Women can currently get this most common procedure at 10 weeks. If passed, House Bill 2337 would cut that down to seven weeks. Limon-Mercado reiterated that that's before many women know they are pregnant.

Ultimately, Limon-Mercado said she is frustrated lawmakers are spending so much time restricting access to a legal procedure when many people are dealing with a deadly pandemic.

“What makes this session particularly egregious is that they are continuing this line of attack even as Texans are suffering through so many crises,” she said.

Got a tip? Email Ashley Lopez at Follow her on Twitter @AshLopezRadio.

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Ashley Lopez covers politics and health care. Got a tip? Email her at Follow her on Twitter @AshLopezRadio.
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