Texas Legislature Pushes Conservative, Anti-Choice Agenda

In the final days of the Texas legislative session, Governor Rick Perry and the Republican-controlled legislature have restricted Texan women’s reproductive freedom by signing into law two new bills that seek to limit access to abortion. The new laws, HB 15 and SB 319, do not directly defy Roe v. Wade, but both place further restrictions on already stringent state abortion regulations. HB 15 makes Texas the 24th state to require a 24-hour waiting period before a woman can obtain an abortion. The law also mandates the materials that patients must receive before having an abortion. At the initial appointment, the provider must show women color pictures of the developmental stage of their fetuses, provide information, now definitively medically disproved, about the “link” between abortion and breast cancer, and inform women about adoption options. It also places stricter regulations on the types of abortions that clinics can perform, allowing second-term abortions to be performed only in hospitals or ambulatory surgical centers.

SB 319 is a fetal homicide bill that defines a fetus as an individual from the moment of conception, setting the stage for anti-abortion legislators to assert that abortion is murder in the eyes of Texas law. Kae McLaughlin, president of Texas NARAL, said, “This isn’t about women’s health, these are people who want to ban abortions. If they can’t make it illegal, they’ll make it impossible to get,” according to the Kaiser Daily Reproductive Health Report. Texas received a C- from NARAL based on its reproductive health policies.

In addition to assaults on abortion rights, Texas legislators passed multiple bills that restrict personal freedoms. These include a requirement for classrooms to conduct the Pledge of Allegiance and a moment of silence, a ban on civil unions or same-sex marriages, and pro-gun legislation supported by the NRA.

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NARAL Pro-Choice America 1/2003; Kaiser Daily Reproductive Health report 6/24/03; Tyler Morning Telegraph 6/4/03; Star-Telegram 6/21/03

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