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Texas Matters: The State Of Abortion In Texas

Office of the Governor

Republican efforts to greatly restrict a woman’s right to an abortion in Texas failed in the regular legislative session. But in a special session, things move faster, and it’s more difficult for the minority party to derail legislation.

Despite efforts by Democrats to slow down the anti-abortion bills Thursday night by filling a house committee hearing, causing the session to run until almost four in the morning, the bills appear to be on their way to eventual passage and becoming law.

The most controversial measure would ban abortions after 20 weeks; the current limit is 24 weeks.

Texas would also require doctors who perform abortions to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles, and only allow abortions in surgical facilities. Many private hospitals will not grant privileges to a doctor who performs abortions, and 37 out of the state's 42 abortion clinics do not qualify as ambulatory surgical centers, a high standard usually reserved for surgical procedures.

If these requirements become law, Texas would one of the toughest states to get an abortion in.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Texas says even backers acknowledge the bills are efforts to make abortions out of reach to many women in the state through both expense and distance. Terri Burke is the executive director of the ACLU of Texas.

Also on this week's show:


After the regular legislative session there was the waiting game to see what bills Governor Rick Perry would veto. Texas has no pocket veto – so the governor isn’t required to sign all bills for them to become law. But Perry does have that straight up veto authority – and the line item veto to cross out things he doesn’t like in the budget. And past legislative sessions have shown us that Perry will use that authority. On June 17, 2001, Perry vetoed 78 bills. That day is sometimes called the Father’s Day Massacre by Texas lawmakers. In this session, Perry only vetoed 24 would-be laws, wiping out proposals to prevent wage discrimination against women, tighten ethics laws, limit the power of university regents and ban the sale of sugary drinks at many public schools.

Craig McDonald is the executive director of Texans for Public Justice – a nonpartisan government watchdog group. He is critical of Governor Rick Perry’s vetoes of ethics reform bills and the zeroing out of funding for the Public Integrity Unit in the Travis County District Attorney's office.

David Martin Davies can be reached at dmdavies@tpr.org and on Twitter at @DavidMartinDavi