Texas Passed Abortion Laws In a Special Session, Because Trampling On Women's Rights Can't Wait

Late Tuesday night, the Texas Senate advanced anti-abortion legislation known as SB5, raising serious concerns for the future of abortion clinics in Texas. Governor Rick Perry called for a special session to discuss redistricting issues which arose from the 2011 court rulings that deemed Texas' redistricting as discriminatory. SB5 passed 20-10 in the Texas Senate, leading way to a vote in the GOP-dominated House of Representatives in Texas. 

The bill includes many provisions to limit women's access to health care resources in Texas. The bill would ban abortions after the 20th week of pregnancy with one or two exceptions. In addition, the bill also would require abortions to be conducted in ambulatory surgical centers by doctors with admitting privileges. These surgical centers have to be within a 30-mile radius of a hospital near the clinic. Furthermore, the bill would ban telemedicine, which would require doctors to only give abortion-pill prescriptions in person and not via telecommunications such as Skype or other means. 

This provision would endanger all but five clinics in Texas, severely limiting women's access to healthcare options and limting their right to choose. This is in line with what Governor Perry and some other Republican state sentors have said about reshaping a "Culture of Life" in Texas. Such provisions have been said to "reshape the landscape" in the state, as fewer clinics and longer distances to reach them will make it far more difficult for women in many parts of Texas to obtain abortion if they choose to. 

The Texas legislature has tried several times to get this passed, but has failed until now. This is particularly why a special session has allowed several components of many of the previous failed bills to conglomerate into a omnibus bill.  

This bill will many problems for Texas in the future, specifically for women's rights in the state. If the bill passes, it can close all but five of the clinics in the second most populous state in America. The bill would also pose significant risks to Texas' booming economy. While its political ideology seeks to turn stump speeches and "Culture of Life" arguments into reality, Texas faces realities it must deal with as its population demographics become more diverse. Furthermore, it's not an enticing incentive to marginalize women's liberty through these bills by limiting access to health care facilities that they have a right to have. According to Guttmacher Institute data, only 1.5% percent of abortions were committed after the 20th week in the United States.

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Shehab Chowdhury

A writer, educator, policy wonk enthusiast, and a believer in witty sentences.

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