Last week at the Texas Capitol, several dangerous and discriminatory bills advanced through the legislative process. But each step of the way, activists showed up and fought back by testifying in committees, protesting, and calling their senators and representatives. More than 600 people signed up to speak on the anti-immigrant Senate Bill 4 and, of those, only 11 registered in support.
We are just getting started. Planned Parenthood supporters are standing defiant against attacks on our communities, and we’re not backing down. We’re in this for the long run.
Senate Approved 2 Anti-Abortion Bills
On Wednesday, the Texas Senate voted to approve two anti-abortion bills — Senate Bill 8 and Senate Bill 415. SB 8 and 415 ban the safest medical procedure for some patients and stand in the way of doctors’ ability to provide the safest care for their patients, even going so far as to dictate medical procedures that aren’t aligned with medical training and practice. SB 8 and SB 415, which received a final vote today, now move to the Texas House.
Discriminatory Bathroom Bill Moves Forward
On Wednesday, the Texas Senate passed SB 6, a bill by Sen. Lois Kolkhorst that would require transgender individuals to use bathrooms and locker rooms in schools and other government buildings that match the gender on their birth certificate. This bill only serves to shame and stigmatize the transgender community, and expose them to more harassment and harm. In her comments on the Senate floor, Sen. Kolkhorst attempted to justify her discriminatory bill as an effort to protect women–which could not be farther from the truth. This bill is also Trump extremist Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick’s top legislative priority this session.
Anti-Sanctuary Cities Bill Heard in the House
Senate Bill 4 by Charles Perry, an anti-sanctuary bill that would require Texas cities and counties to honor Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detainers — meaning jails would have to hold undocumented immigrants at ICE’s request for the agency to potentially deport them, and withhold grant funding for noncompliance, had a public hearing in House State Affairs Committee on Wednesday.
Anti-Abortion Bills Pending Senate Debate
The Senate could take action on three other anti-abortion bills this week. SB 258 by Sen. Huffines, which forces patients to complete an invasive and medically unnecessary form, serves only to shame Texans seeking abortion and to further stigmatize medicine. SB 20 by Sen. Larry Taylor would ban public and private insurance companies, including those under the Affordable Care Act, from providing coverage for abortion except by supplemental policy. We don’t know exactly when these measures will come up for debate, but stay tuned for updates on these bills. SB 25 by Sen. Creighton eliminates the wrongful birth cause of action, which would sanction the ability of doctors to intentionally withhold vital information about a pregnancy from a patient. SB 25 passed the Senate on second reading today.
Anti-Abortion Bill Scheduled For Hearing Wednesday in House State Affairs
On Wednesday, House State Affairs Committee will hear testimony on HB 200 by Rep. Burkett. This bill, the companion to Sen. Schwertner’s SB 8 in the Senate, would ban the donation of fetal tissue from an abortion, as well as includes a copy of a method ban already illegal at the federal level. The bill relies on the widely discredited and deceptively edited videos purporting to show Planned Parenthood profiting from the sale of fetal tissue. A Republican led Congressional committee convened for the express purpose of investigating this allegation found no evidence of wrongdoing by Planned Parenthood, and separately, an AG investigation into a Planned Parenthood health center in Texas likewise returned no evidence of wrongdoing. Instead, extremist state officials turned the “investigation” into a highly politicized war against Planned Parenthood. Fetal tissue research has already led to a number of medical advancements, including the development of lifesaving vaccines for polio and rubella. Prohibiting the donation of or research using fetal tissue jeopardizes critical and life-saving medical research.
Renewal of State Budget Provisions to “Defund” Planned Parenthood
Both the Texas Senate and the House are expected to hold hearings this week to finalize their versions of the state budget. Preliminary budget documents show that both chambers have adopted measures targeting Planned Parenthood’s ability to provide health care. For example, both budgets continue previous riders barring Planned Parenthood from providing services through the Healthy Texas Women program and the state’s Breast and Cervical Cancer Services (BCCS) program. In addition, a new, broad rider by Sen. Kelly Hancock in the Senate budget seeks to bar Planned Parenthood from receiving any funding whatsoever.