Analysis Law and Policy

The 83rd Texas Legislature: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Andrea Grimes

What does the 83rd Texas Legislature hold for the future reproductive and sexual health of the state's residents?

Correction, April 2, 6:35 pm: This article has been edited to correct the name and district of state Rep. Stefani Carter, the sponsor of HB 3819, who represents Dallas.

What does the 83rd Texas Legislature hold for the future reproductive and sexual health of the state’s residents? Rewire breaks down the good, bad, and ugly bills filed by state lawmakers this session. On tap: the potential shuttering of all but five Texas abortion clinics, a host of sexual education bills both progressive and regressive, and challenges to the rights of minors to access and consent to abortions.

THE GOOD

—HB 58: Authored by Democratic state Rep. Lon Burnam, reliable uber-lefty from Fort Worth, this bill would undo one of 2011’s greatest legislative crimes against low-income Texans’ access to reproductive health care: the ban on abortion providers or their “affiliates” (read: Planned Parenthood) from participating in the Women’s Health Program.

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Will it become law? No way in hell. Texas legislators are extremely proud of their war on Planned Parenthood.

—HB 1696, 1701: Authored by state Rep. Jessica Farrar (D-Houston), a lefty firebrand, these bills would repeal Section 21.06 of the Texas Penal Code, which criminalizes “homosexual conduct,” and would repeal statutory language requiring sexual education programs to “state that homosexual conduct is not an acceptable lifestyle and is a criminal offense.”

Will they become lawNot while Senate Republicans are busy trying to ban Planned Parenthood from providing sex education in schools because they believe anything other than abstinence-only education will result in sexually active Kindergarteners.

—HB 1704: Authored by Rep. Farrar, this bill would require health-care providers to offer “medically and factually accurate and unbiased” information about emergency contraception to sexual assault survivors, and provide said contraception to them after a verified negative pregnancy test.”

Will it become lawUnlikely. This bill needs more than Farrar’s charisma for momentum.

—HB 1706: Another one of Rep. Farrar’s attempts to make Texas more woman-friendly, this bill would protect breastfeeding women, dictating that “a mother’s authority to be in a location may not be revoked for the sole reason that she begins to breast-feed,” and “a person may not interfere with or restrict the right of a mother to breast-feed.”

Will it become law? Unlikely. This is another good bill from Farrar that probably won’t be a priority for her colleagues. It certainly isn’t to Rep. Debbie Riddle (R-Houston), who went on a Facebook rampage against immodest women breastfeeding in public.

—HB 1708, 1709: There are two more bills from Rep. Farrar, this time concerning the Texas Women’s Health Program, which launched in January after the Texas kicked Planned Parenthood out of its previously well-performing Women’s Health Program (WHP), which resulted in the loss of a 90 percent federal match in funds. HB 1708 would require that the new Texas Women’s Health Program provide an annual report on its providers and patients served. HB 1709 would require the state to apply once again for its lost WHP Medicaid funds if, in the future, it uses a “poison pill” clause to shut the program down in response to being forced (most likely by court order) to include Planned Parenthood in the WHP.

Will they become law? No. State lawmakers have already done what they came to do with the WHP, which is to gut it and score political points with the anti-choice lobby.

—HB 2160, 2161, 2178: A package of bills aimed at giving teenage mothers better access to contraception, from El Paso’s freshman Democratic Rep. Mary Gonzalez. HB 2160 would allow an unwed minor parent who is 15 or older to legally consent to contraception. HB 2161 would lower the age of eligibility for enrollment in the Texas Women’s Health Program to age 15 for teenage mothers. HB 2178 would require the Children’s Medicaid program to cover contraceptives for teenage mothers age 15 and older.

Will they become law? As a freshman, Gonzalez’s bills are unlikely to advance without considerable bipartisan support, which they may find in her house committees. Will that support extend to the rest of the house? It’s a long shot.

—HB 2945: Authored by moderate Republican Rep. Sarah Davis of Houston, this bill would remove language linking breast cancer to safe, legal abortion from the “Woman’s Right To Know” information that all abortion-seeking Texans are required to acknowledge receipt of.

Will it become lawThere’s no documented, scientific or medical connection between breast cancer and abortion, but that doesn’t mean Davis’ anti-choice colleagues will be inclined to accommodate her solo-authored bill.

—HB 3744: This is another bill aimed at increasing, rather than reducing, reproductive health-care access in Texas from Rep. Farrar. One of her signature bills in the 83rd Legislature, it would eliminate Texas’ mandatory 24-hour waiting period before an abortion, which went into law in 2011. (The waiting period applies to any Texan who lives within 100 miles of any abortion provider.)

Will it become law? Despite university research showing that the 24-hour wait period has a negative effect on women, Texas lawmakers are unlikely to repeal one of their hallmark anti-choice laws after just two years.

—HB 3745: This bill from Rep. Farrar would require that the information contained in the “Women’s Right to Know” packet presented to abortion-seeking Texans be “in accordance to standards adopted by the National Institute of Health and its partner organizations.”

Will it become law? Fighting for scientifically sound information about abortion in Texas is an uphill battle.

THE BAD

—HB 309: Authored by Rep. Allen Fletcher (R-Cypress), this bill would ban abortion “when based on the sex of the unborn child” and make performing such an abortion a class B misdemeanor for a physician but not for the person on whom the abortion is performed.

Will it become law? It’s unlikely this session—similar legislation has failed to advance in years past—but look for this kind of bill to gain steam in the future with right-wingers looking for ever more concocted abortion-related problems to solve.

HB 997: Authored and co-authored by a who’s who of house Republican lawmakers, this bill would ban abortion coverage under insurance plans offered under the Affordable Care Act’s health insurance exchanges, except in cases of a “life-threatening physical condition” on behalf of the pregnant person.

Will it become law? Republicans in Texas live and breathe to challenge or weaken Obamacare. This bill, or an amendment like it, is a strong contender.

HB 1057, SB 521: Authored and co-authored by powerful Republicans and anti-choice Democrats, these bills would ban “an entity or individual that performs abortions or an affiliate of an entity or individual that performs abortions” (read: Planned Parenthood) from providing sex education curriculum or sex education itself in Texas public schools.

Will it become law? Hell yes. This is exactly the kind of wholly unnecessary scare-mongering legislation that Texas lawmakers love to spend time on. Want proof? Watch state Sen. Dan Patrick (R-Houston) snipe and holler his way through conversations with people who disagreed with him at SB 521’s recent committee hearing. (As a bonus, listen for the anti-choicer claim that Planned Parenthood wants to ensure that kindergarteners are sexually active.)

HB 1413: Authored and co-authored by prominent right-wingers, this bill would add abortion tracking to the state demographer’s job description. It’s a pretty neutral-sounding bill on its face, but when you dig deeper you find that it’s part of a larger trend among Republican legislators in the state to find out as much as possible about who gets abortions in Texas and who provides them—not so that they can reduce the need for safe, legal abortions, but so they can criminalize abortion providers (and maybe abortion-seeking Texans) later. After all, if Texas legislators cared about reducing abortions, they already know how: increase access to contraception. Instead, of course, the people who most need low-cost birth control are less likely than ever to get it.

Will it become law? It’ll be hard for the Republican majority in Texas to resist the temptation to go more Big Brother than ever on abortion providers.

HB 2308, 2309: Freshman Rep. Matt Schaefer’s (R-Tyler) pair of bills would increase the kind and frequency of physicians’ reports made on abortions performed, and penalize doctors for non-compliance. (Think of it as a hyped-up, statutory take on state Rep. Bill Zedler’s (R-Arlington) new Big Brother-style abortion reporting requirements.)

Will they become law? These are the kinds of anti-choice bills that Republicans love to pass, because they intimidate doctors and make abortion harder to provide and access, but it may get lost in the Senate Committee on State Affairs shuffle.

HB 3243: Long-term state Rep. Bill Callegari’s (R-Katy) HB 3243 would increase the burdens on minor Texans who seek abortions, requiring not only parental notification, which is already statutory in Texas, but the consent of one parent.

Will it become law? With parental notification already on the books, legislators may take more convincing before tackling this one, but some modification to abortion law concerning minors is a possibility this session.

HB 3247: Another bill from Rep. Callegari, HB 3247 deals with scrutiny of, reporting on, and criminalization of abortion coercion.

Will it become law? Versions of this bill have been popular among anti-choice legislators in the past, but have not so far gained much traction.

HB 3302: A much heftier take than Rep. Callegeri’s on parental notification and consent for minors seeking abortions, this multi-authored bill describes an “unborn child” as “an individual human organism from fertilization until live birth” and requires the written consent of a parent, who must also provide proof of parentage or guardianship, before a minor can obtain an abortion.

Will it become law? There’s so much to unpack in HB 3302 that it may be held up by committee concerns and arguments over language, but the fundamental content will be deeply appealing to legislators who want to reduce minor Texans’ access to abortion. However, it’s clear this is a big target area for anti-choice legislators, and there’s a good chance Texas could see new or increased regulation of minor abortions.

HB 3819: Yet another take on parental consent for a minor’s abortion, from Rep. Stefani Carter (R-Dallas).

Will it become law? See HB 3302 and HB 3243, above.

THE UGLY

SB 97: Anti-choice state Sen. Dan Patrick, a media mogul from Houston, is one of the Texas legislature’s power players, and he’s coauthored SB 97 with his colleague, Tea Party Sen. Donna Campbell of New Braunfels, an opthalmologist with a foot-in-mouth problem. The bill would increase restrictions on medication abortions (the RU-486 pill regimen), demanding that doctors prescribe the pills according to outdated Food and Drug Administration guidelines, effectively setting the practice of good medicine back more than a decade and putting abortion-seeking Texans’ lives in danger. The American College of Gynecologists said the bill would deny “women in Texas the benefits of well-researched, safe and proven protocols that currently exist.”

Will it become law? Patrick’s and Campbell’s bill is a perfect storm of anti-science, anti-medicine thinking and faux-outrage about women’s safety. Its chances are good.

HB 2364, SB 25: These are the multi-authored, Republican-fueled anti-choice dream bills that would ban abortion after 20 weeks in Texas, based on the scientifically unsupported claim that fetuses feel pain at 20 weeks. (They don’t.) A 20-week abortion ban would disproportionately affect low-income Texans, Texans of color, and individuals who have experienced “multiple disruptive events,” such as unemployment or separation from a partner, in the last year.

Will they become law? With strong support from Republican Gov. Rick Perry and Republicans in both the state senate and house, a 20-week abortion ban is a serious threat to safe abortion access in Texas, especially with anti-choice legislators’ growing nationwide success with similar bans.

HB 2816, SB 1198: These two targeted regulation of abortion providers (TRAP) bills with scads of support from Republican lawmakers would require abortion-providing doctors to have admitting privileges at a hospital not more than 30 miles from the site where an abortion is performed, and where there is a dedicated OB/GYN facility.

Will they become law? A contentious house committee hearing has already featured scare mongering from anti-choice legislators and their allies, with graphic descriptions of punctured organs and evil doctors who lack admitting privileges. While there are already regulatory practices in place that keep bad doctors in check, conservative legislators will be anxious to throw their support behind this bill, similar versions of which have been used to shut down abortion clinics and prevent doctors from providing safe, legal abortions in other states.

SB 537: This big TRAP bill has wide support from lawmakers who would like to require all abortion providers in Texas to be licensed as ambulatory surgical centers. The likely result: closure of all but five abortion clinics in the state.

Will it become law? This will be one of the debates to watch when the bill hits the big time on the senate floor this spring. Conservative and Republican lawmakers will have a field day playing dumb and outraged about the safety of abortion procedures in Texas.

News Law and Policy

Texas Lawmaker’s ‘Coerced Abortion’ Campaign ‘Wildly Divorced From Reality’

Teddy Wilson

Anti-choice groups and lawmakers in Texas are charging that coerced abortion has reached epidemic levels, citing bogus research published by researchers who oppose legal abortion care.

A Texas GOP lawmaker has teamed up with an anti-choice organization to raise awareness about the supposed prevalence of forced or coerced abortion, which critics say is “wildly divorced from reality.”

Rep. Molly White (R-Belton) during a press conference at the state capitol on July 13 announced an effort to raise awareness among public officials and law enforcement that forced abortion is illegal in Texas.

White said in a statement that she is proud to work alongside The Justice Foundation (TJF), an anti-choice group, in its efforts to tell law enforcement officers about their role in intervening when a pregnant person is being forced to terminate a pregnancy. 

“Because the law against forced abortions in Texas is not well known, The Justice Foundation is offering free training to police departments and child protective service offices throughout the State on the subject of forced abortion,” White said.

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White was joined at the press conference by Allan Parker, the president of The Justice Foundation, a “Christian faith-based organization” that represents clients in lawsuits related to conservative political causes.

Parker told Rewire that by partnering with White and anti-choice crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs), TJF hopes to reach a wider audience.

“We will partner with anyone interested in stopping forced abortions,” Parker said. “That’s why we’re expanding it to police, social workers, and in the fall we’re going to do school counselors.”

White only has a few months remaining in office, after being defeated in a closely contested Republican primary election in March. She leaves office after serving one term in the state GOP-dominated legislature, but her short time there was marked by controversy.

During the Texas Muslim Capitol Day, she directed her staff to “ask representatives from the Muslim community to renounce Islamic terrorist groups and publicly announce allegiance to America and our laws.”

Heather Busby, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Texas, said in an email to Rewire that White’s education initiative overstates the prevalence of coerced abortion. “Molly White’s so-called ‘forced abortion’ campaign is yet another example that shows she is wildly divorced from reality,” Busby said.

There is limited data on the how often people are forced or coerced to end a pregnancy, but Parker alleges that the majority of those who have abortions may be forced or coerced.

‘Extremely common but hidden’

“I would say that they are extremely common but hidden,” Parker said. “I would would say coerced or forced abortion range from 25 percent to 60 percent. But, it’s a little hard be to accurate at this point with our data.”

Parker said that if “a very conservative 10 percent” of the about 60,000 abortions that occur per year in Texas were due to coercion, that would mean there are about 6,000 women per year in the state that are forced to have an abortion. Parker believes that percentage is much higher.

“I believe the number is closer to 50 percent, in my opinion,” Parker said. 

There were 54,902 abortions in Texas in 2014, according to recently released statistics from the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS). The state does not collect data on the reasons people seek abortion care. 

White and Parker referenced an oft cited study on coerced abortion pushed by the anti-choice movement.

“According to one published study, sixty-four percent of American women who had abortions felt forced or unduly pressured by someone else to have an unwanted abortion,” White said in a statement.

This statistic is found in a 2004 study about abortion and traumatic stress that was co-authored by David Reardon, Vincent Rue, and Priscilla Coleman, all of whom are among the handful of doctors and scientists whose research is often promoted by anti-choice activists.

The study was cited in a report by the Elliot Institute for Social Sciences Research, an anti-choice organization founded by Reardon. 

Other research suggests far fewer pregnant people are coerced into having an abortion.

Less than 2 percent of women surveyed in 1987 and 2004 reported that a partner or parent wanting them to abort was the most important reason they sought the abortion, according to a report by the Guttmacher Institute.

That same report found that 24 percent of women surveyed in 1987 and 14 percent surveyed in 2004 listed “husband or partner wants me to have an abortion” as one of the reasons that “contributed to their decision to have an abortion.” Eight percent in 1987 and 6 percent in 2004 listed “parents want me to have an abortion” as a contributing factor.

‘Flawed research’ and ‘misinformation’  

Busby said that White used “flawed research” to lobby for legislation aimed at preventing coerced abortions in Texas.

“Since she filed her bogus coerced abortion bill—which did not pass—last year, she has repeatedly cited flawed research and now is partnering with the Justice Foundation, an organization known to disseminate misinformation and shameful materials to crisis pregnancy centers,” Busby said.  

White sponsored or co-sponsored dozens of bills during the 2015 legislative session, including several anti-choice bills. The bills she sponsored included proposals to increase requirements for abortion clinics, restrict minors’ access to abortion care, and ban health insurance coverage of abortion services.

White also sponsored HB 1648, which would have required a law enforcement officer to notify the Department of Family and Protective Services if they received information indicating that a person has coerced, forced, or attempted to coerce a pregnant minor to have or seek abortion care.

The bill was met by skepticism by both Republican lawmakers and anti-choice activists.

State affairs committee chairman Rep. Byron Cook (R-Corsicana) told White during a committee hearing the bill needed to be revised, reported the Texas Tribune.

“This committee has passed out a number of landmark pieces of legislation in this area, and the one thing I think we’ve learned is they have to be extremely well-crafted,” Cook said. “My suggestion is that you get some real legal folks to help engage on this, so if you can keep this moving forward you can potentially have the success others have had.”

‘Very small piece of the puzzle of a much larger problem’

White testified before the state affairs committee that there is a connection between women who are victims of domestic or sexual violence and women who are coerced to have an abortion. “Pregnant women are most frequently victims of domestic violence,” White said. “Their partners often threaten violence and abuse if the woman continues her pregnancy.”

There is research that suggests a connection between coerced abortion and domestic and sexual violence.

Dr. Elizabeth Miller, associate professor of pediatrics at the University of Pittsburgh, told the American Independent that coerced abortion cannot be removed from the discussion of reproductive coercion.

“Coerced abortion is a very small piece of the puzzle of a much larger problem, which is violence against women and the impact it has on her health,” Miller said. “To focus on the minutia of coerced abortion really takes away from the really broad problem of domestic violence.”

A 2010 study co-authored by Miller surveyed about 1,300 men and found that 33 percent reported having been involved in a pregnancy that ended in abortion; 8 percent reported having at one point sought to prevent a female partner from seeking abortion care; and 4 percent reported having “sought to compel” a female partner to seek an abortion.

Another study co-authored by Miller in 2010 found that among the 1,300 young women surveyed at reproductive health clinics in Northern California, about one in five said they had experienced pregnancy coercion; 15 percent of the survey respondents said they had experienced birth control sabotage.

‘Tactic to intimidate and coerce women into not choosing to have an abortion’

TJF’s so-called Center Against Forced Abortions claims to provide legal resources to pregnant people who are being forced or coerced into terminating a pregnancy. The website includes several documents available as “resources.”

One of the documents, a letter addressed to “father of your child in the womb,” states that that “you may not force, coerce, or unduly pressure the mother of your child in the womb to have an abortion,” and that you could face “criminal charge of fetal homicide.”

The letter states that any attempt to “force, unduly pressure, or coerce” a women to have an abortion could be subject to civil and criminal charges, including prosecution under the Federal Unborn Victims of Violence Act.

The document cites the 2007 case Lawrence v. State as an example of how one could be prosecuted under Texas law.

“What anti-choice activists are doing here is really egregious,” said Jessica Mason Pieklo, Rewire’s vice president of Law and the Courts. “They are using a case where a man intentionally shot his pregnant girlfriend and was charged with murder for both her death and the death of the fetus as an example of reproductive coercion. That’s not reproductive coercion. That is extreme domestic violence.”

“To use a horrific case of domestic violence that resulted in a woman’s murder as cover for yet another anti-abortion restriction is the very definition of callousness,” Mason Pieklo added.

Among the other resources that TJF provides is a document produced by Life Dynamics, a prominent anti-choice organization based in Denton, Texas.

Parker said a patient might go to a “pregnancy resource center,” fill out the document, and staff will “send that to all the abortionists in the area that they can find out about. Often that will stop an abortion. That’s about 98 percent successful, I would say.”

Reproductive rights advocates contend that the document is intended to mislead pregnant people into believing they have signed away their legal rights to abortion care.

Abortion providers around the country who are familiar with the document said it has been used for years to deceive and intimidate patients and providers by threatening them with legal action should they go through with obtaining or providing an abortion.

Vicki Saporta, president and CEO of the National Abortion Federation, previously told Rewire that abortion providers from across the country have reported receiving the forms.

“It’s just another tactic to intimidate and coerce women into not choosing to have an abortion—tricking women into thinking they have signed this and discouraging them from going through with their initial decision and inclination,” Saporta said.

Busby said that the types of tactics used by TFJ and other anti-choice organizations are a form of coercion.

“Everyone deserves to make decisions about abortion free of coercion, including not being coerced by crisis pregnancy centers,” Busby said. “Anyone’s decision to have an abortion should be free of shame and stigma, which crisis pregnancy centers and groups like the Justice Foundation perpetuate.”

“Law enforcement would be well advised to seek their own legal advice, rather than rely on this so-called ‘training,” Busby said.

Analysis Law and Policy

Supreme Court Ruling on Texas Law Reverberates Around the Country

Teddy Wilson

"To the extent that similar state laws have different provisions, like those that contain transfer agreements for example, those laws will need to be litigated individually to fall," said Jessica Mason Pieklo, vice president for law and the courts at Rewire. "The good news is that the Supreme Court's decision in Whole Woman's Health provides advocates with a solid foundation to begin those next fights."

The U.S. Supreme Court struck down Monday two provisions in Texas’ anti-abortion omnibus law known as HB 2, and with that ruling the dominos began to fall. Similar anti-abortion laws in Wisconsin and Mississippi were blocked Tuesday by the Supreme Court, and Alabama’s attorney general announced he would drop an appeal to a legal challenge of a similar law.

However, significant obstacles remain to ensure access to reproductive health care throughout the country. A number of states have in place slightly different variations of the requirements struck down by the Court, which means it remains to be seen how lower courts may apply Monday’s ruling to restrictions that aren’t exactly like those included in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt.

Monday’s decision is a significant victory for patients and providers, but it doesn’t guarantee that targeted regulation of abortion providers (TRAP laws) across the country will start to fall immediately, explained Jessica Mason Pieklo, vice president for law and the courts at Rewire.

“To the extent that similar state laws have different provisions, like those that contain transfer agreements for example, those laws will need to be litigated individually to fall,” Pieklo said. “The good news is that the Supreme Court’s decision in Whole Woman’s Health provides advocates with a solid foundation to begin those next fights.”

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Dozens of states in recent years have passed TRAP laws, which single out abortion clinics and providers and subject them to regulations that are more stringent than those applied to clinics and physicians in other medical fields.

Many anti-abortion measures introduced around the country resemble copycat legislation drafted by Americans United for Life (AUL), an anti-choice organization that distributes proposals to state lawmakers as part of a strategy to flood state legislatures with anti-choice bills.

As Rewire previously reported, key players in the development of HB 2 were deeply connected to AUL and other conservative lobby groups.

The Supreme Court ruled in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt that two TRAP provisions under HB 2 placed “a substantial obstacle in the path of women seeking an abortion,” and constituted “an undue burden on abortion access.”

Specifically, the Court struck down the requirement that physicians who provide abortion care must have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of the facility where the physician will provide abortion services. The Court also struck down the requirement that facilities providing abortions meet ambulatory surgical center (ASC) requirements, which involve prohibitively expensive medically unnecessary building renovations.

There are 16 states that have passed laws mandating that physicians who provide abortion care have admitting privileges or similar requirements. In addition to laws that have been struck down in Alabama, Mississippi, Texas, and Wisconsin, courts have also blocked similar laws in Louisiana, North Dakota, and Oklahoma.

Laws requiring abortion providers have admitting privileges remain in effect in Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Indiana, Kansas, Missouri, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Utah.

These laws typically require physicians have admitting privileges at a hospital near the facility where they provide abortion care. Some of these laws require that the hospitals provide OB-GYN services, and some require the physician to be board certified in OB-GYN medicine.

Other laws require that the hospital be no more than 30 miles from the facility where the abortion is performed, or have varied in defining the geographic boundary.

The law that was struck down in Mississippi required the admitting privileges be obtained at a “local hospital.” And Utah’s current law requires the hospital be within a “travel time of 15 minutes or less,” while Florida’s recently passed law requires the hospital be within a “reasonable proximity.”

There are 24 states that have passed laws requiring facilities in which surgical abortion services are performed to meet ambulatory surgical center standards that go beyond what is needed to ensure patient safety, and another 17 states require clinics that may only provide medication abortion to meet these same standards, according to the Guttmacher Institute.  

As Nick Bagley, an assistant professor at the University of Michigan School of Law, told Vox, similar laws that have been passed in other states may face legal challenges in the wake of Whole Woman’s Health, but the details of those challenges may vary. “The Supreme Court only applies to Texas,” Bagley said. “Other states will have slightly different laws with slightly different facts to argue over.” 

Florida and Indiana TRAP Laws Set to Take Effect 

This year Florida passed its own Texas-style anti-choice omnibus law, which takes effect Friday. However, there are some differences between the two laws, including differences in the types of regulations of physicians who provide abortion care.

Clinics that offer abortion services in Florida will be required to have a written patient transfer agreement, which includes the transfer of the patient’s medical records, with a hospital within “reasonable proximity” to the facility. Physicians also will be required to have admitting privileges at a hospital within “reasonable proximity” to their clinic.

The law also mandates annual inspections of all licensed abortion clinics, requires any medical facility in which abortions are performed to submit a monthly report, and prohibits state or local governments from entering into contracts with organizations that provide abortion services.

State Sen. Kelli Stargel (R-Lakeland), who voted for the bill, expressed concern after the senate vote that the bill’s language could become an issue in the courts. “Those clauses gave me concern that it would make it as though our intent was to close down all abortion clinics in the state,” Stargel told the Tampa Bay Times. “That was not the intent of this bill.”

After the Supreme Court’s ruling on Monday, Stargel reiterated that despite the bill’s similarities to the Texas law, it was not lawmakers intent to restrict access to abortion. “In Florida, we passed [the law] to safeguard women’s health, not to close abortion clinics,” Stargel said in a statement, reported the Florida Sun Sentinel.

Laura Goodhue, executive director of the Florida Alliance of Planned Parenthood Affiliates, told the Miami Herald that the language of the bill may be different, but that Florida lawmakers had the same intent as Texas lawmakers: to shutter abortion clinics.

“It’s definitely different language,” said Goodhue. “But the intent is the same.”

Planned Parenthood has filed a lawsuit challenging the law, however, the organization is not challenging the admitting privileges requirement. 

Goodhue told the Florida Sun Sentinel that the organization will determine if there are grounds for other lawsuits in the future. “Right now, we’re seeking emergency relief on the other three provisions, but we’ll make sure that access to care is protected,” Goodhue said.

Gov Rick Scott (R), who signed the bill into law in March, said during a press conference Monday that his administration is reviewing the Supreme Court’s decision, reported the Miami Herald

Lawmakers in Indiana have in recent years passed multiple laws to restrict access to abortion, including laws that have provisions mandating that physicians have admitting privileges and other reporting requirements

Mike Fichter, president and CEO of Indiana Right to Life, said in a statement that the Supreme Court showed “utter disregard for women’s health and safety,” and defended a similar law passed state lawmakers this year.

“We will be reviewing the Supreme Court’s decision thoroughly to see how this legal precedent could affect Indiana’s laws on admitting privileges and abortion facility building standards,” Fichter said. 

An omnibus abortion bill passed in 2011 contained multiple abortion restrictions, including a provision that a physician performing an abortion must have admitting privileges at a hospital located in the county where abortions are provided or a contiguous county.

The law also allowed for a physician to meet the requirement by entering into an agreement with a physician who has admitting privileges at a hospital in the county or contiguous county.

Another similar law was passed by Indiana lawmakers this year, which made numerous changes to state laws, including requiring forced counseling and mandatory ultrasounds for abortion patients, creating regulations on physicians who provide abortion care, and banning fetal tissue donation that has led to the development of vaccines and other public health benefits

The law created a requirement that a written agreement between a physician performing an abortion and a physician who has written admitting privileges at a hospital in the county or contiguous county be renewed annually.

The law also requires the state department of health to submit copies of admitting privileges and written agreements between physicians to other hospitals in the county and contiguous counties where abortions are performed.

Gov. Mike Pence (R) signed the bill into law in March, and it will go into effect on Friday.

Ali Slocum, spokesperson for Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky, told the Indianapolis Star that the organization does not have any immediate plans to challenge the law in court. “We are focused on what is currently in the pipeline. It is possible that the standard that the court set [Monday] could be used to challenge restrictions in other states,” Slocum said.

Efforts in State Legislatures to Repeal Laws

In some states lawmakers and advocacy groups may push to repeal similar laws following the Whole Woman’s Health decision.

Arizona lawmakers have passed several anti-choice laws in recent years and, like Texas and Florida lawmakers, justified those regulations as necessary to ensure the health and safety of women in the state.

Jodi Liggett, vice president of public affairs for Planned Parenthood Arizona, said in a statement that the Supreme Court made a “clear statement” that laws that restrict access to abortion care are unconstitutional.

“Arizona is a large state, with population spread across many rural areas. Laws that delay care, require travel over great distances and overnight stays certainly place real-life burdens on women seeking our care,” Liggett said.

Arizona Senate Minority Leader Katie Hobbs told the Arizona Republic that she will lead the effort in the legislature to repeal similar laws. “No woman or doctor should be punished for receiving or providing essential medical care,” Hobbs said. “These restrictions have never truly been about women’s health.”

However, repealing anti-choice laws in the GOP-dominated Arizona state legislature may prove difficult.

Republicans hold an 18-12 majority in the state senate and a 36-24 majority in the state house, and they have introduced dozens of anti-choice bills in the past several years. There have been seven laws to restrict access to abortion passed by Arizona lawmakers, including a law similar to Texas’ HB 2 which requires abortion providers to have admitting privileges.

Those efforts have been spearhead by the Center for Arizona Policy, a conservative think tank that promotes anti-choice, anti-LGBTQ, and so-called religious freedom legislation.

Cathi Herrod, president of the Center for Arizona Policy, said in a statement that the Supreme Court’s decision eliminated “common-sense safety precautions” for women seeking abortion care. “To give the abortion industry a blanket exemption from laws applicable to every other medical facility is unconscionable,” Herrod said.

Josh Kredit, general counsel for the Center for Arizona Policy, told the Arizona Republic that the Supreme Court’s decision suggest that abortion providers should be treated differently that other health-care providers.

“They are arguing they should be exempt from garden-variety health and safety regulations,” Kredit said. “It was clear that Texas, when it passed these, was focusing on protecting women, just like many of our laws that we pass in Arizona.”

Dr. Thomas M. Gellhaus, president of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, said in a statement that the Court’s decision made it clear these laws do not improve the health and safety of patients seeking abortion. Said Gellhaus: “As the court found, it was clear that the ambulatory surgical center and admitting privileges requirements at the heart of Texas law HB 2 did not improve the safety of women, and served only as a barrier to women’s ability to access safe, legal abortion when needed.”

“Of course, this is not the end of the battle when it comes to abortion access,” Gellhaus added. “In dozens of states, women are living under laws that impede access in a variety of ways, for example banning certain abortion procedures, setting gestational limits, mandating that medically inaccurate information be provided to patients, and more. None of these have a basis in medicine, and all of them represent political interference in the patient/physician relationship. We will continue to oppose these laws and to promote safe access to legal abortion for our patients.”