Thursday, July 18, 2013

Texas' abortion bill may face next battle in the courts

Excerpted from “Texas’ abortion bill may face next battle in the courts,” July 13, 2013 -- Sweeping abortion restrictions were passed by Texas’ lawmakers on Friday, July 12, but a slew of court injunctions and blocks of similar laws in other states may mean the contentious measure is ready for its next battleground: the courts. The Republican-controlled Legislature passed the bill just before midnight, with all but one Democrat voting against it. The bill, which was derailed in last month’s special session by a Democratic filibuster, would give Texas some of the nation’s most restrictive abortion laws.

It includes four major elements: a ban on abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, a requirement that abortion physicians have admitting privileges at local hospitals, a requirement that abortion facilities meet the same standards as surgical centers and restrictions on abortion-inducing medication. The regulations are similar to laws enacted in recent years by other states, many of which have met court challenges.

Gov. Rick Perry, who will sign the bill into law in the next few days, said Saturday that the measure will withstand court challenges by those who oppose it, adding “we wouldn’t have passed it if we didn’t think it was constitutional.”

The bill’s author, Rep. Jodie Laubenberg, R-Parker, argued that the bill is about protecting women’s health. Critics, however, say the measure’s intent is to close abortion clinics and block doctors from performing the procedure. Laubenberg acknowledged that opponents will challenge the bill. “It will probably go to the Supreme Court,” she said.

Texas’ measure, which would restrict abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, uses an underlying argument for the timeframe. Some studies show a fetus can experience pain after that point. Under current law, abortions in Texas are prohibited after 24 weeks. Ten other states have passed identical restrictions based on the moral argument over fetal pain.


Dr. Beverly NuckolsCMDA Member and Member of the Board of the Texas Institute of Health Care Quality and Efficiency Beverly Nuckols, MD, FAAFP: “At what point do humans become human enough to have the right not to be killed? How should society balance protection for women who choose to abort their children with the burden imposed by that protection?

"While 62 percent of Texasi and 59 percent of U.S. votersii support a ban after 20 weeks, opponents of the bill stormed the Capitol, disrupted hearings and threatened lawsuits that will likely decide whether the law is enforced. In the middle of the noise, both sides told legislators painful stories about the effect of abortion on their lives.

"Texas’ new law bans abortion after 20 weeks, based on the possibility that the fetus can feel pain at the lower limit of viability since the lower brain structures are in place, the thalamo-cortical connections are developing and primitive memory and learning have begun.iii There are exceptions for life and permanent injury for the mother and severe fetal anomalies. The law also requires that abortion facilities meet guidelines required of facilities that do similar procedures like D&Cs. Doctors performing abortions must obtain hospital privileges within 30 miles of the facility and follow FDA guidelines for medical abortions.

"Christian doctors are in a unique position to guide the public conversation toward one of ethics, rather than popular opinion, science or law. We must also demonstrate Christ’s healing love and forgiveness to those who are in pain because of abortion."

iUniversity of Texas / Texas Tribune “Texas Statewide Survey Field Dates: May 31 to June 9, 2013.” (Accessed July 2, 2013)
ii (Accessed July 16,2013)
iiiAnand, KS. “A scientific appraisal of Fetal Pain and Conscious Sensory Perception” Testimony before Congress, November 1, 2005. ( Accessed online July 1, 2013)

Testimony of Jean A. Wright, MD, MBA
CMDA Ethics Statement on Abortion
CMDA Supports Unborn Child Pain Awareness Act

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