Bills for abortion restrictions pre-filed for 2017 session


In the 2017 session, Texas lawmakers plan to bring to the floor several bills that would restrict abortions despite this year's U.S. Supreme Court ruling that found two provisions of state law unconstitutional.

"States like Texas are going to try to continue to push the envelope," Southern Methodist University political science professor Matthew Wilson told the Dallas Morning News (http://bit.ly/2hnQgzB ). "I don't think legislatures are going to be dissuaded from passing abortion decisions based on existing decisions."

Earlier this month, a federal judge blocked the state's rules mandating burial or cremation of fetal remains from abortions or miscarriages until at least January. A lawsuit filed by the Center for Reproductive Rights and other national advocacy groups argues that the rules serve no medical purpose and are meant to shame women who seek abortions and make it harder for doctors to provide them.

Republican state lawmakers have pre-filed bills ahead of the session, which convenes Jan. 10, that would put similar fetal remains rules into state law, ban a type of late-term abortion that is already illegal under federal law and implement stronger requirements for electronic reporting of abortions by clinics.

John Seago, legislative director for Texas Right to Life, said the anti-abortion group will focus on advocating for bills that save lives, such as a ban on a second-trimester abortion method called dilation and extraction that abortion opponents call "dismemberment abortions."

Rep. Stephanie Klick, a Republican from Fort Worth, says the second-trimester bill is meant to "protect women."

Texas health officials told Planned Parenthood last week that they will boot the organization from the state's Medicaid program come January, fulfilling a promise Gov. Greg Abbott made last year after an anti-abortion group released secretly recorded videos that it claimed showed Planned Parenthood officials profiting from sales of fetal tissue for medical research. Investigations by 13 states concluded without charges of wrongdoing, although a congressional panel is still investigating.

No public funding in Texas is used for abortion. Medicaid reimbursements cover services that include well-women exams, screenings for sexually transmitted diseases and birth control. Planned Parenthood has said it plans to ask a federal court to block the $4 million defunding effort.

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Information from: The Dallas Morning News, http://www.dallasnews.com


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