By Linda Vega
Is the Texas SB5 Bill about stopping the availability, access, or choice of women to have a pregnancy termination, or is it about safety for women and their health when terminating the pregnancy? It has become such an emotional topic these past few weeks in Texas, on what our legislature stands for and what our rights as women are in the matter. However, in looking at the bill itself, it doesn’t mention any type withholding of consent or stating that pregnancies can be terminated at a certain stage of gestation. Instead, it offers a protocol (if you will) on who can perform the termination and under what medical standards should complications arise from the termination.
In the first part, the bill calls for a Licensed Physician to perform an abortion or induce labor, that is someone who is licensed and eligible to practice medicine in the state of Texas. The doctor must further have access to any hospital should complications arise in the pregnancy and if the termination is performed at a clinic, it should not be further than 30 miles from any hospital. Additionally, the bill calls for the pregnant women to give numbers of emergency, access to her medical records, and assurance that she be given 24 hour medical assistance should complications arise in the post-time of the procedure. It further states, that if the physician violates these requirements, the physician will be charged with a Class A Misdemeanor and fined $4000.
The Bill is an amendment to an already existing Chapter 171, titled Abortion in the Health and Safety Code. Under this chapter, the specifics of abortions and the sonogram amendment is included. What is interesting is that the bill is about the safety of women, which calls for the termination be administered ONLY by licensed physicians in a medical facility. This is a necessary requirement to PROTECT women, not prohibit their choice for a termination.
Opponents to the Bill state that too much legislation is involved that could affect their decision. However, if the Bill is read in its entirety, there is no prohibition but safety standards that would ensure that the care they are to receive is sound at best. Other agencies were created to protect our health, such as the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency), OSHA, the FDA (Food and Drug Administration), and so forth. These companies were formed by the Federal Government so as protect our well being, ensuring that regulations keep us safe against work place hazards and drugs. How is this law any different than what these agencies do for us? It is all in the messaging.
Women should not have sub-standard care when having to terminate their pregnancies, nor should they have the fear of a complication endangering their life because of inadequate facilities. The current Bill ensures that basic standards of adequate care are available on a 24 hour notice so that women’s lives are protected. How is this infringing on anyone’s right to choose or have control of their body?
Linda Vega graduated from the University of Texas in Austin and the George Washington Law School in D.C. She worked for The Department of Labor, and she is currently in private practice at THE VEGA LAW FIRM. Her areas of expertise are in Immigration and Labor/Employment-Labor Law. In 2012, Linda Vega was appointed by Gov. Rick Perry to the Family Practice Residency Advisory Committee.