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Texas House Republicans Push Through Anti-Choice Bills Ahead of Deadline

Teddy Wilson

The GOP wants Texas clinics to release unnecessary data about abortion complications.

The GOP-dominated Texas house was gridlocked ahead of a key legislative deadline Thursday night, as conservative members of the House Freedom Caucus used procedural tactics to prevent dozens of bills from receiving votes prior to the deadline. 

The rebellion within the Republican caucus was aimed at the house GOP leadership, which conservative Republicans claim prevented their bills from receiving committee hearings or floor votes. While several anti-choice house bills did not make it through before the deadline for the house to vote on bills originating the chamber, a pair of anti-choice bills were passed before the deadline.

HB 2692, sponsored by Rep. Giovanni Capriglione (R-Southlake), would require abortion clinics, hospitals, and any other health-care facility that provides abortion care to release more detailed data on complications associated with the procedure. A physician found in violation of the reporting requirements could be fined $500 for each violation, and the state could revoke a facility’s license upon the third violation.

The bill was amended to require that complication reports be submitted electronically within 72 hours of the incident, and that reports include the physician’s name.

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The amendment, proposed by Rep. Matt Schaefer (R-Tyler), would also require the reports to include the patient’s personal information—including year of birth, race, marital status, state and county of residence, as well as the first day of the patient’s last menstrual period, number of previous live births, and number of previous induced abortions.

Lawmakers opposed to the bill criticized the focus on abortion complications, and noted that abortion care is overwhelmingly safe and highly regulated. Capriglione claimed the proposal would “provide a more accurate picture of abortion complications in Texas,” reported the Houston Chronicle.

“The data we’re getting is not right,” Capriglione said.

Physicians who provide abortion care are already required under state law to report detailed information about complications resulting from an abortion “within 30 calendar days” to the Department of State Health Services (DSHS).

The DSHS Center for Health Statistics annual reports show that complications resulting from abortion are exceedingly rare, occurring in 0.046 percent of abortions performed in Texas from 2013 to 2015.

Of the 52,963 abortion procedures performed in Texas during 2015, there were only 25 reported complications. There were 22 reported complications from the 53,127 abortions performed in 2014, and 30 reported complications from the 61,495 performed in 2013.

The bill was passed by a 102-39 vote. It now goes to the state senate, which this month passed companion bill SB 1602 by a 23-8 vote.

The state house also passed a bill that would prevent ectopic pregnancy patients from being subject to the same restrictions as abortion patients, such as state-mandated counseling and forced sonograms. HB 3771, sponsored by Rep. Byron Cook (R-Corsicana), changes the definition of abortion to exclude surgeries to remove ectopic pregnancies, which occur when the fertilized egg attaches itself somewhere other than inside the uterus.

HB 3771 was passed by a 101-39 vote and now goes to the state senate for consideration.

Trust Respect Access, a coalition of Texas reproductive justice organizations, said in a statement that the two bills “serve only to stigmatize abortion and abortion providers and to shame women seeking abortion.”

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