Lending credence to those who warn Donald Trump's administration will be dangerous for women nationwide, conservative Texas lawmakers last week filed a slew of new bills attacking reproductive rights.
Legislation filed by GOP state representative Byron Cook would require healthcare centers to bury or cremate fetal remains after an abortion or miscarriage. In October, women's rights advocates delivered 5,500 signatures to the Department of State Health Services (DSHS) opposing a similar—and costly (pdf)—proposal put forth by that agency at the direction of Republican Gov. Greg Abbott.
At a hearing on the DSHS proposal held the day after Trump's election, "[s]ome women were in tears as they shared stories about their traumatic miscarriages and abortions," the Austin American-Statesman reported. "They said they would have suffered more had they been required to bury or cremate the fetus."
Another proposal, put forth by Republican state senator Charles Schwertner, gives lip service to top anti-choice talking points. Schwertner's "Pre-Born Protection and Dignity Act" would "declare something that is already illegal everywhere in the United States, so-called 'partial-birth' abortion, illegal in the state of Texas," the Dallas Observer explained. "Schwertner's bill would also ban most fetal tissue donation in the state, despite the fact that Texas has not had an active fetal tissue donation program 2010."
Citing Schwertner's legislation among other "high-priority bills," Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick declared last week:
Starting in 2017, we will have a friend in the White House who was clearly elected because the people of this country believe in the conservative principles that have guided the way we govern in Texas—life, liberty, and lean government that promotes prosperity. I remain committed to those principles and the legislative priorities I am announcing today all reflect that commitment.
Yet another proposed bill was described by the Observer as "the first shot in a battle that could end in abortion being banned in the state."
Of state senator Bob Hall's effort, the outlet wrote:
He wants the legislature to propose a constitutional amendment that would ban any and all abortion in the state of Texas up to the level allowed by federal law. An election to ratify the proposed amendment would be held in November 2017. As things stand, the vote wouldn't change anything. Roe v. Wade and, more recently, Whole Women's Health v. Hellerstedt, remain the precedents for federal abortion law. States cannot pass any ban or restriction on abortion that places an undue burden on a woman who hopes to receive an abortion. Hall's amendment would come into play if a more conservative Supreme Court overturned Roe, leaving it up to the states to determine legality. If Hall's amendment has become part of the Texas Constitution when that happens, abortion would instantly become illegal across the state.
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In a television interview after his election, Trump reiterated his vow to elect "pro-life" justices to the U.S. Supreme Court, where they could potentially overturn Roe v. Wade and send the matter of abortion access "back to the states." Pence, for his part, has said he wants to "see Roe v. Wade consigned to the ash heap of history where it belongs."
The Dallas Morning News further reported on other anti-choice proposals put forth in Texas:
Possibly the most contentious of the bills was proposed by Rep. Matt Schaefer, R-Tyler. House Bill 87 would prohibit women from having abortions after 20 weeks because of a fetal abnormality. Current rules allow abortions to take place after 20 weeks only if the fetus is not viable, if the abortion is necessary to prevent death or serious impairment to the woman or if the fetus has a severe abnormality.
Schaefer also proposed a bill that would require abortion facilities to submit monthly, instead of annual, reports to the state on each abortion performed. House Bill 144 states that the report, however, would not identify "by any means an abortion facility, a physician performing the abortion, or a patient."
The Daily Beast pointed out that Schaefer has put forth similar legislation in sessions past, with "little legislative success."
However, the publication continued, "these men who would do away with abortion, elected by and loyal to the Tea Party, might find more success or at least more support in a nation ruled by President Donald Trump."
Indeed, Jordan Smith wrote last week for The Intercept that the Texas proposals are "a preview of Trump's America," saying: "[T]he federal government has been crucial in insulating Texas women (and women in similar states) from the insidious regulations championed by conservative state lawmakers—but under a Trump presidency, those important protections may altogether disappear."
Cenk Uygur and Ana Kasparian of The Young Turks took on the issue over the weekend: