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Commentary: New proposed abortion restriction is cruel legislation


Texas lawmakers are once again attempting to ban abortion in the state. Proposed House Bill 87 would ban abortions at 20 weeks of pregnancy in cases of severe and irreversible fetal abnormalities. This bill is big government — plain and simple — and only enables politicians to insert their opinions into health care decisions that should be made by individuals and those they trust.

This is a cruel bill that targets someone who is facing an already difficult situation and makes a decision even more painful. When something goes wrong in a pregnancy — like a severe fetal abnormality — what pregnant women and their families need is support, information and resources, not inflexible laws that don’t account for individual circumstances. Lawmakers should not make these highly personal decisions for women in these trying situations.

Texas already bans abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy in most cases, but currently severe fetal abnormalities are one of the exceptions where abortions are permitted. In addition to this 20 week ban, Texas has already passed several bills that make it difficult for women in Texas to access an abortion. In fact, there are another 25 anti-abortion bills pending in the legislature right now.

Since Texas has been on this yearslong campaign to make abortion as inaccessible and as expensive as possible, the reality is that there will be women who simply can’t access an abortion any earlier than 20 weeks. In addition, many fetal abnormalities cannot be detected earlier in a pregnancy.

Between the logistical gymnastics required to get an abortion in Texas and the limitations of fetal testing in pregnancy, there are Texas women who find themselves in the exact situation HB 87 would ban.

For those women who do end up with the diagnosis of a severe fetal abnormality after 20 weeks of pregnancy, this proposed legislation would add unnecessary heartache to an already difficult circumstance.

Anti-abortion proponents have attempted to frame this law as protecting individuals with disabilities. This is a false straw-man argument because this law does nothing to improve the lives of Texans with disabilities.

If anti-abortion Texas politicians really wanted to protect the rights of Texans with disabilities, they wouldn’t have implemented statewide Medicaid cuts for therapy for children with disabilities last year. Honest steps toward protecting the health and liberties of Texans with disabilities could start by reversing these cuts.

Texas government is already too involved in the abortion process. HB 87 is a further attempt for state politicians to stand in the way of Texas women’s health care because they do not trust Texans to make their own decisions. This is why I am traveling to the Capitol this week with fellow young Texans lobbying in defense of Texans’ most basic human right to health care. We are a group representing the individuals too often overlooked in the abortion debate — the people most adversely impacted by bills such as HB 87. We are women of color, young, transgender, queer, working-class and undocumented.

As a nursing student, one of the core components stressed by my instructors is the absolute necessity of seeing and knowing every patient as an individual in the context of their own life circumstances. Blanket bans such as HB 87 fly in the face of this tenet of medical practice.

It is impossible for the state or any individual to judge and legislate every situational possibility. Life is complicated, after all. Thus decisions surrounding abortion should be left to the person who does know the situation best — the person carrying the pregnancy and anyone they chose to include in their decision.

Canales is a nursing student at University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston and an organizer with Unite for Reproductive and Gender Equity.



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