Abortion Access in the 2015 Legislative Session: Bad Bills to Watch

Thursday, April 9, 2015
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Abortion Access in the 2015 Legislative Session: Bad Bills to Watch

This legislative session, Texas lawmakers have introduced a range of bills aimed at restricting Texas women’s access to safe, legal, and timely abortion care. Laws that restrict access to abortion harm women's health and endanger their safety. 

Join the movement to restore trust in Texans to make their own reproductive health care decisions, respect for health care professionals, and access to the full range of reproductive health care in our state.

Abortion Bans

HB 1976 by Rep. Matt Schaefer, R-Tyler: This bill would remove the exception for severe fetal abnormalities in the 20-week abortion ban passed last legislative session.

HJR 126 by Rep. David Simpson, R-Longview: This is a state constitutional amendment proposal banning abortion in Texas.

Physician Targeting and Coercion Screening Laws

HB 832 by Rep. Matt Schaefer, R-Tyler: This bill would require physicians, rather than abortion clinics, submit a monthly report on abortions performed. It would also remove language in the reporting law that mandates keeping physician’s identity confidential, further intensifying the security threat experienced by physicians performing abortion.

The myth of coercion: Women rarely cite coercion or pressure from family or partners as leading to their decision to abort. A 2005 study from the Guttmacher Institute found less than 1 percent of women surveyed cited coercion or pressure among their main reasons for having an abortion. A University of California San Francisco 2013 study similarly found women rarely cited coercion as a reason for seeking abortion, though many did cite the need to escape bad relationships or domestic violence.

  • HB 1648 by Rep. Molly White, R-Belton, and SB 831 by Sen. Lois Kolkhorst, R-Brenham: These bills would create criminal offenses for coercing someone into having an abortion and would impose multiple requirements on abortion providers and people seeking abortions. It would also mandate a 72 hour waiting period before victims of abuse can access abortion care.

  • HB 3446 by state Rep. Jodie Laubenberg, R-Parker: This bill would require abortion providers to post signs with state-mandated language about the prohibition against forcing a woman to undergo an abortion, an abuse hotline number, and other information.

“Sex-Selection” Abortion Bans

A 2014 study found that restricting access to abortion is the primary motivation for sex-selective abortion bans. Backed by significant misinformation, these laws are designed to further the movement to ban abortion entirely.   

HB 113 by Rep. Allen Fletcher, R-Cypress: This bill could create civil and criminal penalties for knowingly performing or coercing performance of an abortion for purposes of sex selection.

Targeted Regulations of Abortion Providers (TRAP) Laws

TRAP laws impose requirements on abortion providers that are different and more stringent than those applied to comparable medical practices. These laws are medically unnecessary and increase the cost of both providing and obtaining abortions, increasing scarcity and reducing access. Last legislative session, as part of its omnibus anti-abortion law, Texas lawmakers passed two such requirements: ambulatory surgical center (ASC) and admitting privileges laws. Lawmakers pass these laws under the guise of protecting women’s health and safety, but they are by design impossible for providers to meet and have effectively shut abortion clinics throughout the state.

  • HB 3446 by Rep. Jodie Laubenberg, R-Parker:  This bill would require abortion providers to post certain signage in the clinics

  • HB 3447 by Rep. Jodie Laubenberg, R-Parker: This bill would require abortion facilities meet all medically unnecessary requirements of an ambulatory surgical center, a provision of last session’s omnibus anti-abortion law that is currently being litigated in federal court.

  • HB 416 by Rep. Debbie Riddle, R-Tomball: This bill would require staff of abortion facilities which perform more than 50 abortions in any 12-month period to undergo an education training program on human trafficking.

Insurance Coverage for Abortion Bills

These bills would prohibit private health insurance plans offered via the federal Affordable Care Act health benefit exchange in Texas from covering abortion, with an exception only for the mother’s life. These restrictions on abortion coverage have a disproportionate impact on low-income Texans, Texans of color, immigrant Texans and young Texans.

  • HB 3130 by Rep. Marsha Farney, R-Georgetown, and SB 1872 by state Sen. Donna Campbell, R-New Braunfels. HB 3130 received a hearing in the House State Affairs Committee on April 8, 2015. Click here to take action against this harmful legislation.

  • HB 1435 by Rep. John Smithee, R-Amarillo, and SB 575 by Sen. Larry Taylor, R-Friendswood: This bill also requires health insurance plans not offered through an exchange to only offer abortion coverage if it is separate from all other coverage, and offered for an additional fee.

Mandatory, Biased Counseling for Abortions

SB 1869 by Sen. Eddie Lucio, D-Brownsville: This bill would require a woman seeking an abortion to complete a new 1-3 hour “resource awareness session” 24 hours before an abortion. These sessions would be provided by crisis pregnancy centers, faux clinics that lie and shame women out of seeking abortion care. This law, when combined with Texas’ mandatory ultrasound and 24 hour waiting period, would effectively require women to make three separate trips to obtain an abortion and increase the financial burden of obtaining abortion with the cost of childcare, time off work, and transportation.

Restrictions on Young Women’s Access to Abortion

Texas law already requires patients under the age of 18 go through an informed consent process, laws which delay and sometimes preclude minors’ access to medical care. However, if a young woman wants an abortion without parental consent or notification, she can seek approval from a judge through a confidential “judicial bypass” hearing. Many minors seeking judicial bypass face the threat of physical, sexual, and emotional abuse from family or partners, are in need of emergency care, or don't have parents they can contact for permission.

  • HB 723 by Rep. Phil King, R-Weatherford: This bill would change the judicial bypass law so that the minor’s guardian ad litem can no longer serve as the minor’s attorney, meaning the court can’t appoint the same person to be both the minor’s attorney and guardian. This would futher delay access to abortion care. The bill also would also make all judicial bypass criteria—a minor must show she is “mature and sufficiently well informed” or that it is not in her best interest or it would lead to abuse—mandatory, raising the burden of proof on minors and giving judges more opportunity to deny bypass.

  • HB 2531 by Rep. Matt Krause, R-Fort Worth, and SB 1564 by state Sen. Konni Burton, R-Colleyville: This bill would significantly change the judicial bypass procedure for minors seeking an abortion, making it exponentially more difficult for an abused teen to access abortion. The bill would also require that all women seeking an abortion provide valid government identification.

  • HB 1942 by Rep. Ron Simmons, R-Carrolton: This bill would publicize the names of judges who grant a minor's request to obtain a judicial bypass for an abortion—creating a significant reason for judicial bias, and potentially placing judges in harms way, while also creating more of a blockade for pregnant minors.

  • HB 3994 by Rep. Geanie W. Morrison, R-Victoria: This bill would require all women seeking an abortion provide a valid government identification. This bill would also change the  judicial bypass law making it even more difficult to obtain by, for instance, requiring minors appear in person rather than through other typical methods like teleconference.

  • HB 3765 by Rep. Jodie Laubenberg, R-Parker: This bill would require written consent from a minor and a minor’s parent be notarized before an abortion is performed.