Arguments Over Three Anti-abortion Bills Begin in Texas Senate

AUSTIN — The Senate Committee on Health and Human Services took up the first abortion-related bills of the session Wednesday, three proposals that would ban certain procedures, outlaw the donation of fetal tissue from an elective abortion and require fetal tissue to be buried or cremated.Senate bills 8, 415 and 258 are the most prominent anti-abortion bills to emerge so far this year, and committee members sparred over the language and reach of the bills during the first half of Wednesday's hearing. Republican Sen. Charles Schwertner, chair of the Health and Human Services committee, presented Senate Bill 8, which would ban what opponents call "partial-birth" abortions and the donation of fetal tissue from an elective abortion. It would also prohibit the sale of fetal tissue. Federal laws already ban this type of late-term abortion and the purchase of fetal tissue. "We're not in control of federal prosecutors, so putting it in state statute would allow state prosecutors to evaluate potential circumstances and allegations of partial-birth abortions to take action necessary to protect health," Schwertner said in an interview after the hearing. "This is about protecting the health of women and making sure that that type of barbaric and heinous procedure is not carried out on the women of Texas against current federal law.""Partial-birth" abortion is not a medical term, but abortion providers say it refers to a dilation and extraction abortion, an illegal late-term procedure in which a fetus is removed from a woman's uterus intact.   Continue reading...

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