KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Texas’ Strict New Abortion Law Heads To Gov. Perry For Signature

News outlets closely covered the developments surrounding one of the most restrictive abortion laws in the country.

NBC News: Texas Senate Gives Final Passage To Abortion Bill Delayed By Filibuster
Texas legislators overturned a temporary victory by state Democrats and standard bearer Sen. Wendy Davis, passing a bill late Friday that puts new restrictions on abortion procedures. The bill passed the Republican-controlled Senate just before midnight, two weeks after the Legislature failed to put the restrictions to a successful vote in its first special session. The bill would ban most abortions past 20 weeks of pregnancy, place new requirements on which facilities could perform the procedures and limit a woman’s ability to induce an abortion by taking a pill (DeLuca, 7/13). 

The Texas Tribune: Abortion Bill Finally Passes Texas Legislature
The crowd outside the chamber erupted after HB 2 passed with a vote of 19-11. But inside, there were none of the eruptions that helped kill the abortion bill in the first special session. "This is a very difficult, emotional bill that we have dealt with,” said state Sen. Glenn Hegar, R-Katy, the sponsor of HB 2. Democrats offered 20 amendments, ranging from proposals to add exceptions to the bill's 20-week abortion ban for victims of rape and incest to requiring annual inspections of abortion facilities and allowing teen mothers to be excluded from a state law requiring parental consent for family planning services. All were rejected on party-line votes (Smith, Aaronson and Luthra, 7/13).

Houston Chronicle: Senate OKs Abortion Bill
The bill now goes to Gov. Rick Perry for his signature. ...Democrats said a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the law is imminent. "Don't you realize that federal courts have recognized that abortion is a federally protected constitutional right?" asked Sen. John Whitmire, D-Houston. "It's just going to be struck down." A circus-like atmosphere engulfed the Capitol again Friday, with thousands of activists on both sides turning out to scream and chant (Saleh Rauf, 7/13).

The New York Times: Texas Senate Approves Strict Abortion Measure
The fight has been heavy with symbols. The House bill’s author, Representative Jodie Laubenberg, a Republican from Parker, dangled a pair of baby shoes before her as she spoke on Tuesday; Representative Senfronia Thompson, who offered an early amendment to the bill, was flanked by colleagues holding wire hangers, representing the brutal abortion methods they said would return if legitimate clinics were run out of business. Ms. Laubenberg has said that the bill would close no abortion clinics, adding, “It is time these clinics put patients ahead of profits.” (Schwartz, 7/13).

The Associated Press: A Guide To The New Texas Abortion Restrictions 
According the Texas Department of State Health Services, 72,500 abortions are performed in Texas annually. Currently, only five out of 42 abortions clinics in Texas qualify as ambulatory surgical centers, and there is some question whether the others can ever meet the infrastructure requirements such as hallway-width and ventilation standards. Most doctors do not have admitting privileges at a hospital, and it’s unclear how many have such privileges at the remaining clinics in Houston, Dallas, San Antonio and Austin. If more surgical centers do not offer abortions, the remaining five would need to perform on average 43.5 a day to meet current demand (7/13).

ABC News: Texas Passes Strict Abortion Law
Perry and other Republicans have said the law is necessary to protect innocent lives. But organizations like Planned Parenthood counter the law will harm women. And not just women seeking abortions. Low-income and minority women are disproportionately more likely to lack health insurance, and many rely on healthcare clinics that also perform abortions for things like STD testing and cancer screenings. The problem is, with the bill's requirements that abortion-performing clinics have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals and meet the same standards as surgical centers, many of those clinics will be forced to close (Deruy, 7/13).

The Washington Post: Abortion Bill Highlights Democrats’ Uphill Fight In Texas
Democrats haven’t had a moment like this in Texas for years. The abortion clash provided a sudden jolt of energy to a beleaguered party and created a new star in Democratic state Sen. Wendy Davis, whose 11-hour filibuster helped block the abortion bill last month ... Democrats look at the changing demographics of Texas — a growing Hispanic population and an aging white Anglo population — and see an inevitable comeback. But the Democrats haven’t elected anyone to statewide office since the 1990s, and the prospects for doing so in 2014 are bleak (Balz, 7/13).

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