Republicans on Tuesday passed a slate of new abortion restrictions by a vote of 20 to 10 that critics say will force all but five of the state’s abortion clinics to shut their doors forever.
S.B. 5 would require abortion clinics to hire doctors with hospital admitting privileges, mandate that abortion clinics become licensed as ambulatory surgical centers and force doctors to administer medication that causes abortions in person, rather than through a prescription.
All three measures were ditched by Republicans during the normal session due to the two-thirds requirement, which cemented the need for Democratic support. The special session requires only a simple majority for bills to pass, prompting Democrats to accuse Texas Republicans of using a loophole to pass their most brazenly partisan agenda items.
Because surgical and medication abortions are so safe, it’s incredibly rare for abortion doctors to carry hospital admitting privileges. The Texas Tribune noted that the most recent death in Texas attributed to complications from a surgical abortion was in 2000. The National Abortion Federation estimates that only one in every 160,000 abortions will result in complications leading to death, usually from embolism or reaction to anesthesia. By comparison, the risks of carrying a child to term are exponentially greater.
That’s why the vast majority of abortion clinics in the state are not licensed as ambulatory surgery centers, which requires buildings meet certain specifications. Forcing the clinics to obtain those licenses would not just require an application and filing fee, but costly remodels to their facilities as well.
However, Republicans like Sen. Bob Deuell insisted that the clinics likely have enough money to handle the expenses caused by these new big government regulations, according to the Tribune. Pro-choice groups say otherwise, telling The Associated Press that the bill will force about 90 percent of the state’s clinics to close their doors.
Stephen C. Webster is the senior editor of Raw Story, and is based out of Austin, Texas. He previously worked as the associate editor of The Lone Star Iconoclast in Crawford, Texas, where he covered state politics and the peace movement’s resurgence at the start of the Iraq war. Webster has also contributed to publications such as True/Slant, Austin Monthly, The Dallas Business Journal, The Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Weekly, The News Connection and others. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenCWebster.
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