Texas Senate fast-tracks several bills that would limit abortion

Published: Mar. 26, 2021 at 6:26 PM CDT
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KILLEEN, Texas (KWTX) - Last week, a Texas Senate committee heard, voted on and passed out of committee seven bills that would limit access to abortion across the state.

Anti-abortion and abortion rights advocates alike have said that the upper chamber is moving quickly — more quickly than it has in previous legislative sessions.

“To reconvene and pass all the seven pro-life bills out of committee was very unusual and awesome,” said Rebecca Parma, a legislative associate at Texas Right to Life.

“This absolutely feels like a different kind of session for abortion rights,” said Caroline Duble, the political director at AVOW, an abortion rights group in Texas.

One of the most notable bills is Senate Bill 8 by state Sen. Bryan Hughes, R-Mineola, which would ban an abortion after a fetal heartbeat had been detected.

It would also allow anyone to sue in civil court an abortion provider that violated this law.

“This bill is uniquely worse than 6-week bans that have been filed in other states because it also opens the door up for frivolous and harassing lawsuits against doctors and anyone who helps patients access care,” Duble told KWTX.

“So that could be a mother giving money to their child or someone giving a ride for someone to have an abortion,” she added.

Meanwhile, Parma called the bill “very dynamic.”

“It includes the heartbeat aspect, which is super important, and then has these other legal tools as well to continue help protecting more pre-born children,” she told KWTX.

Another bill fast-tracked by the Senate is Senate Bill 9, which would ban most abortions in Texas if the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, the 1973 case that found that state laws banning abortions were unconstitutional.

Senate Bill 802 would require that women were offered certain pre-abortion resources and create a government database to keep track of that information.

Other bills would ban later-term abortions in certain cases and prohibit cities from spending money on various support services related to abortions.

Abortion rights advocates have said that state lawmakers are emboldened by a new conservative majority on the U.S. Supreme Court, which has led them to file bills they might not have in previous years.

“The Trump administration Supreme Court nominees open up a political window for them,” Duble said.

“We want our bills to challenge Roe v. Wade; we want them to go through the court system and undermine Roe v. Wade,” Parma said.

The seven bills are expected to clear the full Senate easily, but they could face a tougher road in the House.

“At the House we have a lot more opportunity for persuasion when it comes to our lawmakers,” Duble said.

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