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Texas Lawmakers Backtrack on Antiabortion-Rights Provisions

Texas Lawmakers Backtrack on Antiabortion-Rights Provisions

April 27, 2015 — Texas lawmakers on Thursday added two antiabortion-rights amendments to an unrelated bill (HB 2510) before sending the entire measure back to committee for revision, AP/KXAN reports (Moravec, AP/KXAN, 4/23).

The underlying bill aims to streamline services offered through the Texas Department of State Health Services.

Vote Details

The state House voted to approve the two amendments, proposed by state Rep. Matt Schaefer (R), before the entire measure was returned to the House Human Services Committee.

One of the amendments, initially approved in an 83-46 vote, would have altered the state's law (HB 2) banning abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy to remove exceptions in instances of fetal anomalies. According to Kaiser Health News/Texas Tribune, the amendment was similar to a bill Schaefer filed in February that is awaiting a hearing in the state House Affairs Committee.

Meanwhile, the second amendment, approved in an 82-53 vote, would have required abortion clinics to submit monthly reports about abortions performed at the facilities, instead of the annual reports currently required by state law (Walters/Ura, Kaiser Health News/Texas Tribune, 4/23). The amendment also would have required clinics to appoint an individual to be in charge of the reports (Rosenthal, Houston Chronicle, 4/23).

According to the Dallas Morning News, lawmakers who support abortion rights raised technical objections to the bill that could have killed the measure. As a result, state Rep. Four Price (R), the sponsor of the underlying bill, agreed to send the bill back to committee for revision (Martin, Dallas Morning News, 4/23).

Comments

During debate over the measure, state Rep. J.D. Sheffield (R) questioned why "the heavy, blunt hand of government" should be involved in women's "most heart-rending decision[s]" to have an abortion in cases where fetal anomalies are discovered.

Meanwhile, in an interview following debate on the measure, Schaefer said he would again offer the amendments through "any vehicle there is" (Houston Chronicle, 4/23).