Earlier this year, the Supreme Court threw out the bulk of a Texas law – House Bill 2, intended to restrict access to abortion services, but Texas lawmakers remain undaunted. According to an article by the Daily Beast, Texas Republicans have filed multiple bills for consideration in the next legislative session which would, among other things, ban abortions for severe fetal abnormalities, require increased reporting from clinics, and make mandatory cremation or burial for fetal remains regardless of the period of gestation.
One bill, Joint Resolution 9, filed by Sen. Bob Hall, R-Edgewood, would go so far as to add a Constitutional Amendment prohibiting abortion “the fullest extent authorized under federal constitutional law as interpreted by the United States Supreme Court.” Although the Amendment would have to be approved by a two-thirds majority of Texas voters in both chambers, if successful, JR9 would essentially render abortion – and therefore, abortion clinics – illegal in the state of Texas.
The new proposed legislation comes in the wake of the Supreme Court’s 5-3 decision in June striking down laws that Texas lawmakers billed as “a legitimate interest in seeing to it that abortion… is performed under circumstances that insure maximum safety for the patient.” But according to CNN, opponents argued that it would have shut down nearly all clinics performing abortions within the state – and, as Justice Steven Breyer added in the decision, “There was no significant health-related problem that the new law helped to cure.”
“We agree with the District Court that the surgical-center requirement, like the admitting-privileges requirement, provides few, if any, health benefits for women, poses a substantial obstacle to women seeking abortions, and constitutes an “undue burden” on their constitutional right to do so.”
The new laws which have been proposed seem to swing between much the same, in the case of House Bill 144 which would require clinics to submit monthly, rather than annually, reports on every abortion performed, to the outright attempts to criminalize and ban abortion present in House Bill 87 and Joint Resolution 9.
According to the Dallas Morning News, Rep. Matt Schaefer, R-Tyler, proposed House Bill 87, which would prohibit abortions after 20 weeks due to a severe fetal abnormality. Current Texas law allows abortions after 20 weeks if the fetus is not viable if the mother’s life or ability is threatened, or in the case of a severe fetal abnormality. Schaefer also proposed House Bill 144 – which, in fairness, also states that it would not identify “by any means an abortion facility, a physician performing the abortion, or a patient.”
House Bill 201, filed by Rep. Byron Cook, R-Corsicana, a so-called “abortion funeral bill,” would require any fetal remains to be cremated or buried regardless of gestational period. Currently, fetal remains are allowed to be incinerated or ground until unrecognizable and disposed of in a sanitary landfill. Opponents of the bill questioned if women who had a spontaneous miscarriage – about 10-15 percent of pregnancies – would be required to take the miscarried fetus or embryonic tissue for “proper” disposal.
Texas lawmakers haven’t filed any significant legislature targeting abortion since House Bill 2 in 2013. But since the Supreme Court struck down major sections of it, they seem to have shifted their focus to once again make abortion a primary issue in the Texas legislature.
Sen. Bob Hall, who filed Joint Resolution 9, is a Tea Party Republican who won his 2014 campaign against another Republican opponent partly on the grounds that opponent Bob Deuell was controlled by Satan.
“Satan must have a stranglehold on [Deuell].”
Most of these laws, if passed, will almost certainly result in federal challenges – similar laws in other states (of which there aren’t that many) have been halted by federal judges and the Supreme Court before.
But that doesn’t seem set to deter the Texas legislature from their attempts to criminalize abortion.
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