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Abortion access threatened as restrictive bills make their way through Texas Legislature

first_img Previous articleClass of 1971 celebrates 50 year graduation anniversary and reflects on time at TCUNext articleAlpha Chi Omega wears denim, helps raise awareness for sexual assault Katherine Lester Life in Fort Worth + posts Katherine Lesterhttps://www.tcu360.com/author/katherine-lester/ ReddIt Facebook Twitter TCU students show off years of work at first virtual honors research forum TCU places second in the National Student Advertising Competition, the highest in school history Students debut performances of drag personas as part of unique new course Katherine Lesterhttps://www.tcu360.com/author/katherine-lester/ NewsPolitiFrogPolitiFrog NewsThe 109The 109 NewsAbortion access threatened as restrictive bills make their way through Texas LegislatureBy Katherine Lester – May 4, 2021 1022 RELATED ARTICLESMORE FROM AUTHOR Linkedin World Oceans Day shines spotlight on marine plastic pollution Student e-commerce startup helps upcoming TCU designers grow their businesses Facebook printLoading 50%Anti-abortion bills make their way through the Texas LegislatureWhat the heartbeat bill passed by the Senate could mean for Texans.By Katherine LesterClinic manager Angelle Harris walks in the front door of the Whole Woman’s Health clinic in Fort Worth, Texas, Wednesday, Sept. 4, 2019. Faced with drives of four hours or more to Fort Worth, Dallas, El Paso or out-of-state clinics, many women in West Texas and the Panhandle need at least two days to obtain an abortion _ a situation that advocates say exacerbates the challenges of arranging child care, taking time off work and finding lodging. Some end up sleeping in their cars. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)Clinic manager Angelle Harris walks in the front door of the Whole Woman’s Health clinic in Fort Worth, Texas, Wednesday, Sept. 4, 2019. Faced with drives of four hours or more to Fort Worth, Dallas, El Paso or out-of-state clinics, many women in West Texas and the Panhandle need at least two days to obtain an abortion _ a situation that advocates say exacerbates the challenges of arranging child care, taking time off work and finding lodging. Some end up sleeping in their cars. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)For women seeking an abortion in Texas, access to the procedure could soon prove to be even more of a challenge.The Texas Senate passed ­five bills last month that would further restrict access to abortions in Texas, one of the most stringent states on abortion in the country. One of the bills passed, Senate Bill 8, is known as a “heartbeat bill” and would ban abortions as early as six weeks into a pregnancy or once a fetal heartbeat is detected. The bill has an exception for medical emergencies but excludes rape or incest.A House committee also advanced a package of anti-abortion bills on April 15 including House Bill 1515, a companion bill to Senate Bill 8. The full House will vote on ­­­­­these bills before the end of their legislative session.Senate Bill 8House Bill 1515The bill also gives private citizens the ability to sue abortion providers or any person who “aids or abets” in the elective procedure.Abortion access in Texas is already heavily restricted compared to other states. In 2017, 96% of Texas counties had no abortion clinics. Counties with clinics often have long wait times and other challenges. “This new law will make it so almost nobody could get an abortion at all,” said Joanne Green, a political science professor at TCU with a focus on gender politics and reproductive rights. “I knew a TCU student who had to terminate. Just to get an appointment took weeks, and she happens to live in a county that has places to get an appointment.”Many women might not know they are pregnant within six weeks of conception. “Let’s just say, for the average person, it takes them a little bit of time to realize they missed their cycle, then to get the pregnancy test, to make the choice, to get the appointment,” said Green. “Because there’s so few of these clinics, it takes sometimes a long time to get an appointment, therefore, already putting you beyond the six weeks.”Green also said to expect this legislation, if passed, to be challenged and eventually make its way to the Supreme Court. Roe v. Wade, Planned Parenthood v. Casey, and Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt are all Supreme Court decisions ruled in favor of reproductive rights activists. Decisions like these may be challenged more frequently with a conservative majority in the U.S. Supreme Court. Many states have had an uptick in pro-life legislation and other conservative legislation meant to challenge past decisions since Justice Amy Coney Barrett was appointed late last year.Moving the heartbeat bill through the courts would benefit the pro-life movement by potentially overturning Roe v. Wade. Elizabeth Bott, a junior early childhood education major and president of TCU Students for Life, said the bill aligns with her group’s aims.“I think it’s awesome that our legislators are starting to put a bold bill out that could possibly end up one day reaching the Supreme Court and overturning Roe v. Wade, which is of course a huge goal of the pro-life movement,” said Bott. “It’s not the biggest goal, but it is a goal.” Clinical coordinator Jaunita Loza walks down a hallway past a room named after Margaret Cho at the Whole Woman’s Health clinic in Fort Worth, Texas, Wednesday, Sept. 4, 2019. Marva Sadler, director of clinical services, said that the entire clinic has quotes and pictures throughout with various rooms named after “Women of Power.” (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)Clinical coordinator Jaunita Loza walks down a hallway past a room named after Margaret Cho at the Whole Woman’s Health clinic in Fort Worth, Texas, Wednesday, Sept. 4, 2019. Marva Sadler, director of clinical services, said that the entire clinic has quotes and pictures throughout with various rooms named after “Women of Power.” (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)Whole Woman’s Health v. HellerstedtThe Supreme Court ruled in favor of reproductive rights activists in 2016 in the Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt decision. The court established that the restrictions placed on abortion clinics under House Bill 2 passed by the Texas Legislature were unconstitutional and placed an “undue burden” on those seeking an abortion. Even though the court ruled in favor of the clinics, many clinics had already suffered in the three years it took the bill to reach the Supreme Court. “The abortion-rights activists won that decision with Whole Woman’s Health, but it was after the clinics already closed,” said Green. “People don’t seem to appreciate that was a very empty victory because the pro-life strategy worked. They passed a law they knew was unconstitutional. They wouldn’t admit to that, but they probably knew it was unconstitutional.” The court’s ruling in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt found that half of the 40 clinics offering the procedure in Texas closed as a result of HB 2. “This decrease in geographical distribution means that the number of women of reproductive age living more than 50 miles from a clinic has doubled, the number living more than 100 miles away has increased by 150%, the number living more than 150 miles away by more than 350%, and the number living more than 200 miles away by about 2,800%,” according to the decision.HB 2 limited abortion access in a different way than heartbeat bills would. However, like HB 2, HB 1515 could have similar damaging effects to remaining clinics, even if ruled unconstitutional like HB 2.“They could pass anything knowing it’s unconstitutional but it’s going to take four years to get to the Supreme Court,” said Green. “We could be living in the most horrible of totalitarian states.”TopBuilt with Shorthand Katherine Lesterhttps://www.tcu360.com/author/katherine-lester/ ReddIt Twitter Katherine Lester A fox’s tail: the story of TCU’s campus foxes Linkedin Welcome TCU Class of 2025 What we’re reading: Rangers welcome full crowd, police chief testifies in Chauvin trial Katherine Lesterhttps://www.tcu360.com/author/katherine-lester/last_img read more