Less than a year after the Supreme Court struck down a pro-life law in Texas, the indomitable state legislature has once again acted to protect the unborn, sending new abortion regulations to Governor Greg Abbott’s desk.
On Friday, Texas senators passed several new abortion limits, including a ban on dilation and evacuation — or “dismemberment abortions”, the most common abortion procedure used for second-trimester babies. The bill, Senate Bill 8, which has previously passed the House by a vote of 96-47, also requires that fetal remains be either buried or cremated.
These bills represent the most stringent abortion regulations the Texas legislature has passed since 2013. That year, it passed House Bill 2, requiring facilities where abortions are performed to meet certain standards applicable to all surgical centers, including admitting privileges at local hospitals. In the June 2016 case, Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, the Supreme Court struck down large portions of that bill, disregarding the fact that the standards safeguarded women’s health and claiming that they imposed an “undue burden” on women seeking abortions.
Courts in Alabama, Louisiana, Kansas, and Oklahoma have also blocked similar laws banning dilation and evacuation abortions. In addition, earlier this year, a Texas district court ruled that requiring burial of fetal remains is unconstitutional.
Despite these court rulings, pro-life Governor Abbott is expected to sign the bill into law, sending the message that a few court decisions will not stop Texas lawmakers from passing laws protecting the lives of the unborn. It is a message also relayed by state Senator Charles Schwertner, who exhorted his fellow lawmakers, “We shouldn’t be afraid to pass laws that we think are necessary, proper and right.”
After Whole Woman’s Health, pro-life leaders have come back more determined than ever to enact legislation in defense of the most defenseless.
Photo credit: Gage Skidmore