On June 6 Texas Gov. Greg Abbott enthusiastically signed a law banning all abortions performed by dilation and evacuation, the safest and most common method of second trimester abortion. The law, which goes into effect Sept. 1, also prevents women from donating fetal remains for scientific research and requires all abortion clinics to dispose of any fetal remains by paying for a burial or cremation.
Planned Parenthood and the Center for Reproductive Rights filed a lawsuit July 20 seeking to block provisions of the law. Seven other state legislatures have passed similar restrictions.
“The law we challenged today in Texas is part of a nationwide scheme to undermine these constitutional rights and ban abortion one restriction at a time,” Nancy Northrup, president of the Center for Reproductive Rights, told the press.
According to the Guttmacher Institute, legislators in six states this year introduced “measures to ban all abortions, and in 28 states to ban abortions under some circumstances.” Major restrictions have been adopted in 11 states.
Abbott called a special session of the legislature that began July 18 to adopt more laws to prevent women from ending an unwanted pregnancy. The Senate has approved two bills now heading to the House. One bans insurance plans from covering abortions and the other prevents any government funds from going to affiliates of abortion providers that do not offer the procedure.
“They want to close down the Planned Parenthood in Austin that does not perform abortions,” Lexie Cooper, president of the Austin chapter of the National Organization for Women, told the Militant Aug. 1.
This facility provides other services, including birth control as well as cancer and HIV screening. Shutting down Planned Parenthood “hurts the most vulnerable, low-income women,” Cooper said. At the same time, “there’s been an explosion of so-called crisis pregnancy centers. They get government funds, tax dollars, but their aim is to prevent women from getting an abortion. They give false information like abortions cause cancer.”
A number of previous Texas government attacks on women’s access to abortion have been reversed. In June 2016, after a three-year legal battle, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned a Texas law requiring any doctor who performs abortions to have admitting privileges at a local hospital and demanding abortion clinics meet hospital-like standards.
This was a victory, but over half the 40 clinics in Texas closed in the meantime. Only four have reopened.
By 2014 no clinics provided abortions in 96 percent of Texas counties. This situation falls particularly hard on women from the working class and from families on farms and in rural towns.
A new 2017 Pew Research poll found that 57 percent of all adults, as high as it has been in two decades, support legal abortion in all or most cases.
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