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Abortion Takes Center Stage at Special Session on "Redistricting"

PHOTO: CREDIT: Stu Steeger
PHOTO: CREDIT: Stu Steeger
June 20, 2013

AUSTIN, Texas - It was supposed to be a special session focused on redistricting, but abortion has taken center stage at the Texas State Capitol.

The state Senate this week passed a bill that would impose several new restrictions, and similar proposals will be taken up tonight by a committee of the state House. If the changes become law, said Terri Burke, ACLU Texas executive director, it will only add more trauma to the process while doing nothing to decrease the prevalence.

"They may reduce the number of legal abortions and they may reduce the number of safe abortions," she said, "but people who need an abortion will get an abortion."

The bill would require all abortions to be performed by a physician who has admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of the clinic, and would add more restrictions to medication abortions. It also would require all procedures to be done at an ambulatory surgical center, which Burke said is not medically necessary and could drop the number of clinics in the state to five.

"They are all on I-35 or east of I-35, leaving 35 percent of the population with no clinic," she said. "Everything west of I-35 becomes a no-man's land for reproductive health care."

The reduction in access also is an attack on the poor, Burke said, because those who can afford to would still be able to travel to Dallas, Houston or another state.

"But if you don't have means, you can't do that," she said. "And so the way you're going to get an abortion is by some quack or somebody who says, 'Here, I've got this pill you can take' or you cross the border and go to someone who's very cheap and maybe doesn't really know what they're doing."

The special session is scheduled to adjourn at midnight Tuesday.

The text of the proposed legislation is online at legis.state.tx.us.

John Michaelson, Public News Service - TX