Senate Panel Approves Omnibus Abortion Bill

An omnibus abortion regulations bill is headed to the full Senate for debate after receiving tentative approval Friday from a panel of senators.

Senate Bill 5 would ban most abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, heighten regulatory standards for facilities that perform abortions, require doctors who perform abortions to have admitting procedures at nearby hospitals, and require doctors who administer abortion-inducing drugs to do so in person. The full Senate is set to take up the legislation on Tuesday.

The Senate Health and Human Services Committee voted 5 to 2 -- with state Sens. Royce West, D-Dallas, and Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo, casting the only no votes -- to advance the legislation. Two committee members, Sens. Bob Deuell, R-Greenville, and Carlos Uresti, D-San Antonio, were absent for the vote. 

The individual bills that make up SB 5 -- Senate Bills 13, 18 and 24 -- were also voted out of the committee. Zaffirini noted that she would continue to work with the legislation's author, Sen. Glenn Hegar, R-Katy, on changes that could add exemptions for women who seek abortions after 20 weeks because of psychological concerns.

Hegar said the committee substitute of SB 5 adds an exception to the 20-week ban for situations involving a "severe fetal abnormality."

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