AUSTIN (Nexstar) — With just 21 days left to pass House bills out of committee, there is no sign in the Texas legislature that any changes are coming to the state’s strict abortion ban.
On Monday morning, lawmakers who authored the legislation that made providing abortion a felony stood with activists to denounce any possible changes to the law.
“The origin of the conception is not what determines the value of life,” State Sen. Angela Paxton said. “I am the result of an unplanned pregnancy.”
Rep. Giovanni Capriglione, (R-Southlake), said his goal this session is to prevent any exceptions that would weaken the restrictions.
“There is no such thing as an unplanned pregnancy. There’s a plan for everyone,” he said.
The activists included men and women who said they were conceived or impregnated as a result of rape. They drew upon their own experiences to present themselves as living arguments against an exception for rape in the abortion ban law.
“Even though my birth mom was the victim of the horrific violence of rape, she did not make me a victim of the horrific violence of abortion,” activist Ryan Bomberger said.
They highlighted 10 bills that aim to loosen the abortion ban to exempt cases like rape, incest, and fatal birth defects. All are authored by Democrats and none have received a hearing in their respective committees.
“I don’t see that any change is on the horizon,” state rep. Mihaela Plesa said. “I have been working really hard with members across the aisle, I’ve been working with leadership of the public health committee to try to get some of my bills heard on the floor.”
Rep. Plesa, (D-Dallas), has filed a series of bills to clarify when doctors may intervene in a high-risk pregnancy.
HB 1490 would require doctors to prioritize the woman’s life above the life of the fetus. She intended this to be an answer to Gov. Greg Abbott’s request that doctors have clear instructions in how to handle those emergency cases.
“I thought that was just a common sense bill because the governor asked for clarification around these abortion exemptions,” she said. “That’s what my bill was supposed to do, just to create that clarification so that doctors aren’t put in a hard position. When you’re having woman go into septic shock… the choice will be absolutely easy for the doctors.”
In November, just before the general election, Abbott told KXAN he will focus on clarifying the law doctors must follow.
“There are some doctors who say they don’t have the authority to treat things like ectopic pregnancies or miscarriages,” he said. “I believe that’s unacceptable. So one thing I will be keenly focused on is clarifying and making sure the state is doing everything we possibly can to protect the life of the mother.”
On Monday, however, Texas Alliance for Life said there is no need to change the law to accomplish that.
“Our laws are very clear,” Amy O’Donnell with the Alliance for Life said. “We have heard stories of doctors who say they need further clarification. And we believe that that clarification should come in the same way that it comes for doctors regarding other legislative laws that have passed that affect their practice, and that’s through the various boards that provide that clarification for them, as well as for nurses and for pharmacists. The laws do not need to be changed.”