Abortion

Texas House Tentatively OKs Abortion Restrictions

Jun 24, 2013
Veronica Zaragovia, KUT News

The Texas House gave preliminary approval to one of the most controversial bills of the 2013 special session – Senate Bill 5. The House is reconvening this morning.

Among its provisions, the measure would ban abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy and would only allow abortions to take place at facilities that meet the standards of ambulatory surgical centers.

Democrats offered a number of amendments – stalling the vote until after 3 a.m. One amendment related to scientific evidence that disputes the claim that fetuses feel pain at 20 weeks.

Abortion Bills Draw Scores of People to Texas Capitol

Jun 23, 2013
Veronica Zaragovia for KUT News

Before the Texas House gaveled in this afternoon to take up measures related to abortion, people streamed onto the rotunda floor to get a T-shirt from Planned Parenthood. Then they filled up the House gallery and the space between the Senate and House on both floors.

Jan Soifer of Austin was wearing an orange dress as she waited in line to get her shirt. She is the chair of the Travis County Democratic Party. 

Todd Wiseman / Jennifer Whitney for Texas Tribune

After abruptly ending hours of public testimony that went into the wee hours of Friday morning, the House State Affairs Committee reconvened on Friday and quietly approved House Bill 60, its companion, Senate Bill 5 — omnibus abortion restriction legislation — and a standalone measure to ban abortion at 20 weeks gestation, House Bill 16.

With the special session coming to an end on Tuesday, opponents of the measures say the decision by Chairman Byron Cook, R-Corsicana, to end to the hearing near 4 a.m. — before hundreds of reproductive rights advocates could testify — may open the door to kill the legislation. 

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Hundreds of people who had signed up to testify at a Texas House Committee hearing on abortion restrictions yesterday didn’t get to speak. Committee Chairman Byron Cook closed testimony after 3 a.m. Friday.

The House Committee on State Affairs was considering legislation that would require abortion facilities to meet the same standards as ambulatory surgical centers and ban abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy. The committee didn't vote on the bills.

Lizzie Chen for KUT News

Texas Senators passed a bill late last night 20-10 that would allow abortions only in surgical facilities and further restrict abortion-inducing medications.

Republican senators insisted the bill was passed to protect women’s health, but Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst tweeted this morning, “We fought to pass SB-5 thru the Senate last night and this is why,” linking to a map from an abortion-rights group showing clinic locations that says "if SB5 passes, it would essentially ban abortion statewide."

Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

The Texas Senate voted, about 30 minutes before midnight, to pass an abortion bill, Senate Bill 5, with a vote of 20 to 10.

Before debate began roughly 6 hours earlier on the Senate floor, SB 5 got a significant change.

The bill's sponsor, State Sen. Glenn Hegar, R-Katy, filed a substitute version, removing the provision that would prohibit abortion after 20 weeks of gestation.

That may be to give other provisions a better chance of passing the Legislature.

Abortion Bills Debate in Texas Senate Slated for Next Week

Jun 14, 2013
Veronica Zaragovia for KUT News

After lengthy public testimony on Thursday, not much debate took place today in a Texas Senate committee.

The Senate Health and Human Services Committee approved four bills to tighten abortion regulations. Texas State Sen. Royce West, D-Dallas, one of the committee members, says most Senate Democrats won’t vote for the abortion-related bills now up for debate, but he’s confident they’ll pass the Senate.

Filipa Rodrigues, KUT News

People on both sides of the abortion debate are gearing up for a crucial hearing Thursday at the Texas Capitol. The Senate Health and Human Services committee will hear testimony on four bills that would likely make it harder to get an abortion in Texas, after Governor Perry on Tuesday added the issue to the special legislative session. 

Bob Daemmrich, Texas Tribune

Gov. Rick Perry is again expanding the agenda of the ongoing special session, and this time he has added a issue that is sure to spark partisan warfare.

Perry on Tuesday added “legislation relating to the regulation of abortion procedures, providers and facilities.” Perry also added the issue of life sentences for 17-year olds who commit serious crimes, a big issue for prosecutors but less likely to trigger divisive debate.

Texas Tribune

The battle over funding the Women’s Health Program was one of the most contentious fights in the 2011 Texas legislative session. The program provided family planning and healthcare services for low-income women who, if they became pregnant, would qualify for Medicaid.

Texas Tribune

Political powerhouse Texas Right to Life is working overtime to try to defeat a compromise measure aimed at improving state laws governing “end of life” medical decisions. But with time running out to getSenate Bill 303 passed, the fight over the legislation has shifted from political to personal.

Todd Wiseman, Texas Tribune

President Obama on Friday became the first sitting president to address Planned Parenthood's annual meeting, delivering a strongly worded speech defending the embattled organization.

"We shouldn't have to remind people that when it comes to women's health, no politician should get to decide what's best for you," said Obama, who was greeted by sustained applause when he took the stage.

Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

Update: A bill requiring abortion providers to have the ability to admit patients at a hospital within 30 miles of the clinic now moves to the Senate floor.

Supporters say the bill would ensure patients have access to care if there is a complication or emergency during or after the abortion. 

“If an abortionist is not competent to obtain hospital privileges, then he is not competent to doing abortions," said Mary Lynn Gerstenschlager with the conservative Texas Eagle Forum.

Texas Bill Would Ban Abortion at 20 Weeks of Pregnancy

Apr 10, 2013
Photo courtesy www.flickr.com/msjacoby

Texas requires doctors to show a woman who chooses abortion a sonogram of the fetus and hear the heartbeat. State Rep. Jodie Laubenberg (R-Parker) wants to ban abortions altogether 20 weeks into the pregnancy and beyond.

Carol Everett of the Women’s Wellness Coalition of Texas supports the measure. She said she's witnessed a fetus move away from the operation tools.

Bill on Link Between Abortion, Breast Cancer Stirs Debate

Apr 10, 2013
Eric Schlegel for the Texas Tribune

State law requires Texas physicians to inform women having an abortion that the operation may increase their risk of breast cancer.

But State Rep. Sarah Davis (R-West University Place), a survivor of the disease, wants to stop the mandate through a bill she’s authored.

KUT News

Three bills related to Gov. Rick Perry are getting a vetting today.

The Texas Senate is set to hear two bills scrutinizing the use of money from the Texas Enterprise Fund. The Texas Enterprise Fund is Perry’s economic development program that gives taxpayer money to private business. Some Austin recipients include Apple and Visa.

Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

Good morning. After last night, Austin’s looking at decreasing rain chances as the morning goes on, lessening from as much as 50 percent to just a slight chance. Sorry, that means no more hail

Lead Story: The sponsor of a bill heard in a Texas Senate committee yesterday says the measure is about protecting the health of women who are getting abortions. But opponents say it will just make abortions harder to get, especially in rural areas.

A week after the Arkansas legislature passed the strictest measure in the country on abortion, North Dakota's legislature passed a bill that goes further and would ban abortions as soon as a heartbeat is detected.

Arkansas' bill banned abortions after 12 weeks; North Dakota's could ban them as early as six weeks into a pregnancy.

Erich Schlegel, Texas Tribune

The Texas law that requires women wait twenty-four hours after receiving an ultrasound to get an abortion is not causing them to change their minds but is causing “excessive hardship.”

That’s according to a new survey by researchers at the University of Texas and a Massachusetts research group that favors women’s reproductive rights.

KUT News

 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.”

The most heated part of the fight between the Obama administration and religious groups over new rules that require most health plans to cover contraception actually has nothing to do with birth control. It has to do with abortion.

Specifically, do emergency contraceptives interfere with a fertilized egg and cause what some consider to be abortion?

Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

Good morning! With highs in the upper-70s, Austin’s in for a cloudy, breezy and muggy day, according to the National Weather Service.

Lead story: An anti-abortion protest converged on the State Capitol Saturday afternoon. Among the speakers at the “Texas Rally for Life:” Attorney General Greg Abbott, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and Gov. Rick Perry, who said he was working to “make abortion in any stage a thing of the past.”

Tuesday marks the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion. But in some states, access to facilities that perform abortions remains limited.

In part, that stems from another Supreme Court ruling from 20 years ago that let states impose regulations that don't cause an "undue burden" on a woman's abortion rights.

Ben Philpott, KUT News

There are several expected priorities for lawmakers at the newly begun 83rd legislative session. Education, transportation and water infrastructure are high on many lawmakers list. And in a conservative legislature – social issues , like abortion, often find traction.

There are always a handful of anti-abortion bills filed during a legislative session. Some proposing to outlaw all abortions – in hopes of an eventual Supreme Court ruling leaving abortion laws up to individual states. In Texas legislators have increasingly restricted abortion rights over the last several sessions.  

Marjorie Kamys Cotera, Texas Tribune

Update: Here's a statement from Gov. Rick Perry: 

“Today’s ruling finally clears the way for thousands of low-income Texas women to access much-needed care, while at the same time respecting the values and laws of our state. I applaud all those who stand ready to help these women live healthy lives without sending taxpayer money to abortion providers and their affiliates.”

Original post: A judge has ruled against granting Planned Parenthood a temporary restraining order that would prevent it from being kicked out of the state’s new Women’s Health Program.

Texas officials plan to launch a new program on Jan. 1 that will provide family planning services, well-woman exams and more, but will exclude clinics affiliated with abortion providers – mainly Planned Parenthood, which historically has provided over approximately half the services in the program.

flickr.com/scatx

Update: A decision on whether to allow women in Texas to receive government subsidized health screenings through Planned Parenthood will not be issued until hours before the organization could be cut off by the state.  

Visting judge Gary Harger today delayed a decision until Monday, Dec. 31 at 1:15 p.m. over whether to extend the temporary restraining order requested by Planned Parenthood. The order would ensure continued funding for Planned Parenthood through the Texas Women's Health Program, at least until another hearing on Jan. 11. 

Michael Stravato, Texas Tribune

Gov. Rick Perry on Tuesday indicated he would support a prospective "fetal pain" bill to ban abortions after 20 weeks. Speaking at the Source for Women, a pregnancy crisis center in Houston, he said his goal "is to make abortion at any stage a thing of the past." 

The measure is being championed by Texas Right to Life, a state-based anti-abortion group, but a bill has not yet been filed. The group's director, Elizabeth Graham, said the measure her organization backs would include exceptions for women whose lives are in danger, but not for victims of rape or incest. "Those decisions for children who are conceived in rape or in incest will need to be made prior to the 20-week mark," she said.

Callie Richmond, Texas Tribune

In a peace offering of sorts to medical and women's groups on Thursday, Texas Health and Human Services Executive Commissioner Kyle Janek announced rules for the new state-run Women's Health Program that permit doctors to discuss abortion with their patients and practice alongside physicians who provide abortions.

“What we wanted was to allow for the one-on-one, private, non-directive counseling between a physician and her patient,” Janek said.

But the new rules have done little to stem the frustration of family planning providers: They come as the state's Republican leaders prepare to run the Women's Health Program on their own — without the federal support the state has received for years, and without Planned Parenthood clinics.

“Once and for all, we implore Texas to put politics aside and put women’s health first," said Ken Lambrecht, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas. "The Women’s Health Program and Planned Parenthood have worked together to provide women with essential health services, including cancer screenings, birth control, and well-woman exams, for the past five years." 

Pete Gallego campaign, via Huffington Post

A Congressional race in West Texas is getting ugly: Republican U.S. Rep. Francisco "Quico" Canseco is running for re-election against Democratic State Rep. Pete Gallego, and using some scorched-earth campaign tactics. 

The Canseco campaign has been sending out mailers that accuse Gallego of:

  • Saying “no to God” – a reference to controversy ginned up regarding the Democratic Party’s national platform, which does indeed reference God;
  • Promoting abortion for young girls – supposedly in reference to abortion-rights group NARAL’s support of Gallego, and
  • Pushing for “marriage to be between man and man.”

The accompanying imagery features a picture of Jesus, a baby and two men kissing.

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