AUSTIN — The Texas Senate on Wednesday approved two anti-abortion priority measures that would prohibit certain procedures and the donation of fetal tissue.
The upper chamber passed one bill that would ban “partial-birth” abortions and the donation of fetal tissue for research, sending it to the House for consideration. Lawmakers then gave preliminary approval to a proposal that would ban “dismemberment” abortions, with a final vote scheduled for Monday.
Both bills passed easily through the Senate Committee on Health and Human Services last month after several hours of public testimony. Critics of both bills said they are unnecessary and could prevent doctors from using the safest medical procedure available. Abortion opponents urged lawmakers to take more drastic measures and try to abolish abortion altogether.
Senate Bill 8 from Sen. Charles Schwertner would ban what the bill calls “partial-birth” abortions, a late-term procedure that is federal law prohibits. His bill would also prohibit the donation of fetal tissue from an elective abortion and the sale of fetal tissue — which is also illegal under federal law.
Sen. Judith Zaffirini, a Democrat, proposed an unsuccessful amendment to Schwertner’s bill that would have allowed women to choose to donate tissue from an abortion.
“I agree with the bill’s intent not to incentivize abortion,” Zaffirini said. “But, I believe if tissue can be used for research purposes, it should be.”
The Senate voted 24-6 to adopt the bill without amendments, with Democratic Sens. Carlos Uresti, Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa and Eddie Lucio voting in favor of adoption.
The Senate also voted 22-8 to give preliminary approval to Senate Bill 415, which would ban what the bills calls “dismemberment” abortions. The sponsor, Sen. Charles Perry, said the bill means doctors “can’t dismember the baby and have that be the cause of death.”
Abortion providers say the language of the bill could prevent them from performing most dilation and evacuation procedures, a standard late-term procedure using suction and instruments to remove fetal tissue. Perry’s bill allows doctors to perform this type of procedure only when the women’s life is in danger.
Democratic Sen. Kirk Watson proposed an amendment that would allow doctors to perform the procedure if they determine it’s the safest available option, but it wasn’t adopted.
Many lawmakers thanked Perry for filing his bill, including GOP Sen. Donna Campbell, who said “dismemberment” abortion constitutes “cruel and unusual punishment.”
Healthy Busby, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Texas, criticized lawmakers for approving the bills, calling them “thinly-veiled attempts to ban abortion.”
“These anti-abortion bills would prevent doctors from using their best medical judgment when treating their patients and would put patients’ health, safety and lives at risk,” Busby said in a prepared statement. “Every woman’s pregnancy experience is different, and doctors need all options available to treat their individual patients. Politicians should leave the practice of medicine to physicians.”
(c)2017 The Dallas Morning News
Visit The Dallas Morning News at www.dallasnews.com
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.