Two abortion-related bills advanced Wednesday in the Texas Senate.
The first, Senate Bill 8 by state Sen. Charles Schwertner, R-Georgetown, would ban the use of fetal tissue from abortions in medical research.
“The people of Texas simply will not stand for unborn children being torn apart, monetized and traded like some sort of perverse commodity,” he said.
Schwertner’s measure also would prohibit two practices already banned by federal law — a second-trimester procedure that some call partial-birth abortion, and the sale of fetal body parts.
Instead of leaving federal investigators with sole authority, SB 8 would allow Texas law enforcement agencies to investigate and prosecute potential violations, Schwertner said.
An amendment by state Sen. Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo, would have allowed women to donate post-abortion fetal tissue for research “so the greater society can benefit from its discoveries.”
Zaffirini’s proposal was rejected, 20-10, and SB 8 was approved on identical 24-6 votes and sent to the Texas House.
The second measure, Senate Bill 415 by Sen. Charles Perry, R-Lubbock, received initial approval and will return to the floor next week for a final vote.
SB 415 would prohibit “dismemberment abortions” in the second trimester unless there is no fetal heartbeat, Perry said.
“This bill does not prohibit all second-trimester abortions. Senate Bill 415 only prohibits one of several procedures available,” he said.
But several Democrats argued that SB 415 would place dangerous limits on “dilation and evacuation” abortions, saying the method is the most common and safest procedure used in the second trimester.
State Sen. Kirk Watson, D-Austin, proposed an amendment that would allow doctors to determine which second-trimester procedure was safest for their patients.
“This would put the decision making where it should be, with the doctor, not a bunch of senators standing on the Senate floor,” Watson said. “This would say the doctor’s clinical judgment would rule.”
Perry said the amendment would give doctors too much discretion, adding that SB 415 would not apply in situations where the woman’s life was in danger, and Watson’s amendment was defeated.
Seven other states have enacted similar bans, although courts have blocked enforcement in four states.