SB 1 is an omnibus abortion bill that contains multiple abortion restrictions, including (1) 20-week abortion ban; (2) admitting privileges requirements; (3) ambulatory surgical center requirement; (4) reporting requirements; and (5) restrictions on medical abortion.
20-Week Abortion Ban
SB 1 would ban abortions at 20 weeks post-fertilization unless abortion is necessary to avert the woman’s death or a serious risk of substantial and irreversible physical impairment of a major bodily function, other than a psychological condition. The abortion would not apply to an abortion performed on an “unborn child who has a severe fetal abnormality.”
The bill states that abortion performed after 20 weeks must be performed in a manner that provides the best opportunity for the “unborn child” to survive.
The bill includes legislative findings based on junk science that a fetus can feel pain at 20 weeks.
Definition of Abortion
SB 1 states that an act is not an abortion if the act is done with the intent to: (1) save the life or preserve the health of an unborn child; (2) remove a dead, unborn child whose death was caused by spontaneous abortion; (3) remove an ectopic pregnancy; or (4) treat a maternal disease or illness for which a prescribed drug, medicine, or other substance is indicated.
- Admitting Privileges: Physicians would be required to have admitting privileges at a hospital that is located no more than 30 miles from where the abortion was performed and that provides OB-GYN services.
- Physician Contact: Physicians would be required to provide pregnant woman with a telephone number by which a physician or health-care professional employed by the abortion provider facility can be reached 24 hours a day for assistance with complications.
- Ambulatory Surgical Center Requirement: Abortion facilities would be required to meet minimum standards adopted for ambulatory surgical centers by September 2014.
SB 1 would amend physician reporting requirements in Section 245.011(c), Health and Safety Code, to include probable post-fertilization age of the “unborn child.”
Medication Abortion Restrictions and Telemedicine
SB 1 would prohibit dispensing abortion-inducing drugs (mifepristone-misoprostol regimen) by anyone other than a physician, and would require that the administration of the drugs follow FDA protocols as outlined on the final printed label of the abortion-inducing drug.
The bill would require that the physician dispensing the drug first examine the pregnant woman and document, in the woman’s medical chart, the gestational age and intrauterine location of the pregnancy prior to dispensing the abortion-inducing drug. The bill does not specify that the examination must be in person, although that is implied. This provision, therefore, is likely a telemedicine ban.
The bill also would require the physician to schedule a follow-up visit not more than 14 days after the administration or use of the drug. The physician would also be required to make a reasonable effort to ensure that the woman returns for the follow-up visit and to document such efforts by including in the woman’s medical record the date, time, and name of the person making the effort.
The bill provides for disciplinary action or assessment of an administrative penalty against a person who violates the law, and prohibits assessment of a penalty against a pregnant woman who receives a medical abortion.
SB 1 was introduced in the second special legislative session called by Gov. Rick Perry in 2013, and was left pending in committee. It is the companion bill to HB 2, which was passed and signed into law in July 2013.