AUSTIN, Texas (CN) – The Texas Senate passed two anti-abortion bills Monday, including one that would effectively ban second-trimester procedures.
The other bill would prohibit parents from seeking damages for “wrongful birth” medical malpractice claims if they were not informed of genetic or congenital fetal abnormalities.
As the Republican-dominated chamber quickly green-lighted the two bills Monday, about a dozen women clad in red robes watched from the Senate gallery in silent protest.
They were dressed up as characters from Margaret Atwood’s dystopian novel “The Handmaid’s Tale,” in which women are treated as subhuman and are forced to give birth against their will.
Senate Bill 415, sponsored by Sen. Charles Perry, R-Lubbock, would ban “dilation and evacuation” abortions, the most common procedure used during second-trimester procedures.
The procedure, which involves the use of surgical instruments to grasp and remove pieces of fetal tissue, is referred to as a “dismemberment abortion” in the bill.
Perry said his bill would end the “barbaric practice” of removing a fetus in pieces while it’s alive.
Opponents say it’s just another thinly veiled attempt to ban abortion and shame women who have them.
“This measure would prevent doctors from using their best medical judgment when treating their patients and would put patients’ health, safety and lives at risk,” NARAL Pro-Choice Texas Executive Director Heather Busby said in a statement Monday. “Every woman’s pregnancy experience is different, and doctors need all options available to treat their individual patients. Politicians should leave the practice of medicine to physicians.”
Lawmakers also passed Senate Bill 25, which eliminates “wrongful birth” as a cause of action, with the aim of keeping doctors from encouraging abortions in order to avoid lawsuits.
“Currently doctors are incentivized to seek out all potential abnormalities and over cautiously suggest termination in order to protect themselves,” the bill’s author, Sen. Brandon Creighton said.
Such claims, however, are rare. During an interim committee hearing last year, Mari Robinson, a former director of the Texas Medical Board, told senators that her agency had investigated only five wrongful birth claims since the cause was recognized in 1975.
Creighton, a Republican from Conroe, Texas, said the wrongful birth cause of action is “not in line with the majority of Texans and the statutes we have on the books prioritizing life.”
“At the basis of this common law suit is the belief that a life could have been wrongfully born and that disabled children are of less value than those born without disabilities,” Creighton said.
Opponents of the bill told a Senate committee two weeks ago that the legislation would allow doctors to manipulate families by withholding information from patients or lying to them, and impose a doctor’s religious belief upon them.
In order to alleviate these concerns, the committee substitute of the bill includes language stating that the elimination of the claim should not be “construed to eliminate any duty of a physician or other health care practitioner under any other applicable law.”
Creighton said that if doctors do harm their patients in any way, they could still be held accountable with negligence, malpractice or emotional distress complaints.
Both bills now go to the Texas House of Representatives.