El Paso State Senator Introduces Bills To Protect Access To Women's Healthcare

Jul 9, 2013

Senator José Rodríguez has filed bills that aim to increase access to care and reduce the number of abortions and unplanned pregnancies in Texas.

“As we heard from hundreds of witnesses at yesterday's committee hearing, this debate is about women’s health care and access to services. Simply put, S.B. 1 imposes an undue burden on women with the goal of shutting down legal abortion services,” Rodríguez said. “In so doing, it eliminates access to family planning, annual wellness exams, and other services for thousands of Texans that actually reduce abortion and improve women’s health, which we aim to enhance through proposals that have a sound medical basis.”

The bills are as follows:

·         S.B. 32 expands Medicaid to low income women, thereby ensuring more Texas women have access to health care;

·         S.B. 33 removes medically inaccurate language in the Texas Right to Know pamphlet that falsely suggests a link between abortion and breast cancer;

·         S.B. 34 repeals the sonogram law, which interferes in the doctor-patient relationship and requires women to undergo an invasive, potentially medically unnecessary procedure; and

·         S.B. 35 requires limited service pregnancy centers (also known as crisis pregnancy centers) that receive state funding to provide comprehensive, non-directive reproductive health care counseling and requires the information to be scientifically accurate and evidence-based.

These four Rodríguez' bills are also joint authored by Senators Van de Putte, Garcia, Ellis, Hinojosa, and Watson. The bills are part of a package proposed by members of the Senate Democratic Caucus that also: give teen moms the legal ability to consent to receive contraception; require comprehensive and evidence-based sex education; extend the Children’s Health Insurance Program prenatal coverage from 60 days to six months; and require that women receive equal pay for equal work, a bill that passed the Legislature but was vetoed by Governor Perry.

S.B. 1 is opposed by physicians groups because of its lack of medical basis and intrusion into the doctor-patient relationship. Provisions include:

·         The “fetal pain” provision, which would ban abortions after 20 weeks and  for which there is no conclusive medical evidence – indeed, the evidence is largely to the contrary.


·         Requiring health clinics that perform abortions to be certified as ambulatory surgery centers, which would force closure of all but five of the 42 clinics that perform abortions in Texas, including the two clinics in El Paso.

·         Requiring doctors who provide abortions to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles.


·         Requiring doctors to use outdated protocols for RU-486, which would force patients to take unsafe doses of the pill.