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Texas Republican Could Expose Abortion Providers to ‘Even Worse’ Harassment

Dennis Carter

Texas Republicans' vast regulatory scheme for abortion providers stands in stark contrast to the almost total lack of oversight for anti-choice pregnancy clinics.

Texas legislation making abortion complication reports and clinic license applications publicly available would open abortion providers and patients to increased harassment while furthering the stigma around abortion care, reproductive rights advocates said.

A Republican bill to force public disclosure of otherwise private information like reports detailing complications during an abortion was introduced this month in the Texas legislature, where Republicans are once again pushing a raft of anti-choice measures. The bill, known as HB 3071, was filed by state Rep. Ken King (R-Canadian), an abortion rights opponent.

King did not respond to interview requests from Rewire.News.

The proposed disclosures could be added to the list of medically unnecessary requirements placed on Texas abortion clinics, which are already required to submit an annual report to the Texas Department of State Health Services documenting every abortion performed in the facility, including abortions that involve complications like uterine perforation, allergic responses, and infections. GOP legislators have championed these regulations despite abortion care being overwhelmingly safe: Around 0.01 percent of emergency rooms visits by women of reproductive age between 2009 and 2013 were related to abortion care, according to a 2018 study published in BMC Medicine.

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“Harassment of abortion providers is already a big problem, and this bill would expand the scope of existing law to make it even worse,” Anjali Salvador, staff attorney at the ACLU of Texas, told Rewire.News in an email.

Making abortion providers expose information about their clinics and the abortions they provide is part of an anti-choice strategy to frame abortion care as dangerous, Salvador said.

“This law is aimed specifically at abortion providers and would make them easier to target,” she said. “Currently, abortion opponents are able to do things like request clinic inspection reports in order to generate complaints against abortion providers for the sole purpose of harassing them. This bill would give them even more ammunition to use in their campaign to stigmatize abortion—despite the fact that abortion is incredibly safe.”

The Texas bill comes amid a rhetorical escalation that has seen anti-choice activists and Republican politicians falsely accuse Democrats of supporting infanticide—a myth that conflates legal abortion care with killing babies. U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) on Sunday called the Democratic Party “the party of infanticide,” following President Trump’s lead.

Delma Catalina Limones, a spokesperson for NARAL Pro-Choice Texas, said the ramped up anti-choice discourse and legislation like the Texas disclosure bill are meant to “intimidate providers, facilitate their harassment and contribute to a hostile environment for them to provide care in.”

Texas Republicans’ vast regulatory scheme for abortion clinics stands in stark contrast to the almost total lack of oversight for anti-choice pregnancy clinics, which receive millions in taxpayer dollars and lie to pregnant people about their health-care options.

If clinic license applications were made public, Salvador said abortion providers could become open to threats from Texans who oppose abortion rights.

“If abortion opponents were able to use clinic license application information to interfere with facility operations even more than they do now—for example, by using a listed address to intimidate landlords or rally neighborhood opposition at an earlier stage— it would be even harder for clinics to provide important healthcare services to Texas women,” she said.

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