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Texas Lawmakers Plan Additional Abortion Restrictions, Provider Requirements

Texas Lawmakers Plan Additional Abortion Restrictions, Provider Requirements

January 6, 2015 — Texas lawmakers who oppose abortion rights plan to propose additional abortion restrictions and clinic regulations during the 2015 state legislative session, the San Angelo Standard-Times reports.

Although provisions of a state antiabortion-rights law (HB 2) passed in 2013 remain under court review, officials with antiabortion-rights groups said they want to tighten the restrictions even further.

Overall, HB 2 has resulted in the closure of the majority of the about 40 clinics that were operating in the state prior to the law's implementation, the Standard-Times reports.

Planned Parental Notification Law

State Rep. Matt Krause (R) is planning to propose a bill that would place additional restrictions on minors seeking a judicial bypass to state parental involvement requirements for abortions, among other provisions.

Under current law, minors who determine that it is not in their best interest to involve their parents in their abortion decisions are required to demonstrate to a judge that they are mature enough to choose to have an abortion and that they are aware of all of their options. The judge then decides whether parental notification is in the minor's best interest. According to the Standard-Times, the law allows minors to apply for the bypass in any county in the state.

The new bill would permit minors to apply for the bypass only in the county where they reside or in an adjacent county if their home county has a population of fewer than 50,000.

Susan Hays, a lobbyist for NARAL Pro-Choice Texas, said the measure would create challenges for minors in rural areas. Hays noted that some judges refuse to hear any judicial bypass cases, while some rural Texas counties share one district judge. Further, she said confidentiality can be difficult in some rural locations.

Planned Clinic Requirement

Separately, state Rep. Debbie Riddle (R) proposed a bill that would require clinic staff to undergo a training program to help identify and respond to signs that women have experienced human trafficking.

Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas spokesperson Sarah Wheat said all PPGT patients are currently screened for potential signs of human trafficking and domestic violence. Wheat added that the proposed legislation could have a bigger effect if it required training for all providers rather than only abortion clinic staff (Martin, San Angelo Standard-Times, 1/3).