Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Texas SB5 - the Women's health bill / 20 week abortion ban bill


Read this: http://legiscan.com/TX/text/SB5/2013/X1 It's what Texas is trying to make the law.

"AN ACT relating to the regulation of abortion procedures, providers, and facilities; providing penalties."

All amendments: http://www.legis.state.tx.us/BillLookup/Amendments.aspx?LegSess=832&Bill=HB2

A brief on all of the amendments they tabled:

- To be completed. There's a LOT to dig through here.

Here's the status of HB 2 (which was SB 5):

§ Stage 1 Bill filed by Laubenberg on 6/28/2013.

§ Stage 2 Bill reported out of House committee on State Affairs with vote of 8 Ayes, 3 Nays, 0 Present Not Voting, 2 Absent.

§ Stage 3 Bill passed the House. *

§ Stage 4 Bill reported out of Senate committee on Health & Human Services with vote of 6 Ayes, 3 Nays, 0 Present Not Voting, 0 Absent.

§ Stage 5 Bill passed the Senate.

§ Stage 6 Bill signed by the Governor.

§ Stage 7 The Act takes effect on the 91st day after the last day of the 83rd Legislature, 2nd Called Session, except Section 8 takes effect September 1, 2014.

Click the "Bill stages" tab on the top right to see its status:http://www.legis.state.tx.us/BillLookup/History.aspx?LegSess=832&Bill=HB2

* HB 2 was passed to engrossment (i.e. passed the Senate) by (Record 26): 98 Yeas, 49 Nays, 1 Present, not voting.

Yeas — Anderson; Ashby; Aycock; Bell; Bohac; Bonnen, D.; Bonnen, G.; Branch; Burkett; Button; Callegari; Capriglione; Carter; Clardy; Cook; Craddick; Creighton; Crownover; Dale; Darby; Davis, J.; Elkins; Fallon; Farney; Fletcher; Flynn; Frank; Frullo; Geren; Goldman; Gonzales; Gooden; Guillen; Harless; Harper-Brown; Herrero; Hilderbran; Huberty; Hughes; Hunter; Isaac; Kacal; Keffer; King, K.; King, P.; King, S.; Kleinschmidt; Klick; Kolkhorst; Krause; Kuempel; Larson; Laubenberg; Lavender; Leach; Lewis; Lozano; Martinez; Miller, D.; Miller, R.; Morrison; Mun˜oz; Murphy; Orr; Otto; Paddie; Parker; Patrick; Perry; Phillips; Pickett; Pitts; Price; Raney; Ratliff; Riddle; Ritter; Sanford; Schaefer; Sheets; Sheffield, J.; Sheffield, R.; Simmons; Simpson; Smith; Smithee; Springer; Stephenson; Stickland; Taylor; Thompson, E.; Toth; Turner, E.S.; Villalba; White; Workman; Zedler; Zerwas.

Nays — Allen; Alonzo; Alvarado; Anchia; Burnam; Canales; Coleman; Collier; Cortez; Davis, S.; Davis, Y.; Deshotel; Dukes; Dutton; Eiland; Farrar; Giddings; Gonza´lez, M.; Gonzalez, N.; Guerra; Gutierrez; Hernandez Luna; Howard; Johnson; King, T.; Longoria; Lucio; Ma´rquez; Martinez Fischer; McClendon; Mene´ndez; Miles; Moody; Naishtat; Neva´rez; Oliveira; Perez; Raymond; Reynolds; Rodriguez, E.; Rodriguez, J.; Rose; Thompson, S.; Turner, C.; Turner, S.; Villarreal; Vo; Walle; Wu.Present, not voting — Mr. Speaker(C).

Absent, Excused — Farias.

REASON FOR VOTE Although I am strongly in support of the provisions contained in the legislation and am pro-women's health, there are several concerns about the bill and process. Without some of the amendments to advance the bill, we did not allow the legislative process to take its course. At different stages in committee or on the floorwe prevented the body from proposing amendments that could have impacted the legislation in different ways. I am in favor of provisions of the bill; however, we cannot in good conscience further legislative intent at the expense of impacting access to legal health care services. If clinics close in regions throughout the state, this couldresult in limiting access to critical services. As a legislature, we need to focus on women's health care and prenatal care by making it more accessible and affordable. We also need to improve and facilitate adoption procedures for the betterment of all. I will continue to work to ensure we accomplish the goals set out for the betterment of our communities. Mun˜oz

Want to see more related bills? https://www.facebook.com/notes/billy-joe-cain/2013-texas-83rd-legislature-2nd-called-session/10151449042120059




I don't have any idea when life begins, I'll say that from the beginning. And I think that is definitely a topic that should be discussed, and will continue to be discussed, for as long as science continues its march forward. While "viability" is the cornerstone of our current law, people are going to want to change that and of course there is always going to be a grey area where a simple measure of the duration of gestation determines external viability doesn't work in all cases. And since it's legislation, it has to have some type of number. But that's not what these current bills are about. Or at least, it's not what it says it's about.

For history's sake, here's a take of Roe v Wade: http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/the_gist/1997/05/fetal_viability.html. A quote: "The court accepted the conventional medical wisdom that a fetus becomes viable at the start of the last third of a pregnancy, the third trimester, sometime between the 24th and 28th week (a pregnancy usually lasts 38 weeks). Because the point of viability varies, the court ruled, it could only be determined case by case and by the woman's own doctor. Even if the fetus is viable, the court said, states could not outlaw an abortion if the woman's life or health was at stake."


The bill, SB5 (now HB2), here in Texas, alleges to be about on "women's health." However,SB 5 (now HB2) would result in the closure of all but five abortion clinics in TX.http://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/news/309065-texas-committee-advances-abortion-bill-as-poll-shows-opposition

As for medical issues, here's a good place to look:, from the Texas District American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists: http://www.meandmyobg.com/2013/07/texas-acog-statement-opposing-sb-5-hegar-hb-60-laubenberg-2/

Some snippets:

Texas-ACOG opposes 20 week ban/‘Fetal Pain’ provisions

Texas-ACOG opposes provisions dictating protocol for physicians to follow when prescribing certain drugs

SB 5/HB 60 weakens standards of care and patient safety

SB 5/HB 60 threatens the doctor-patient relationship

Texas-ACOG opposes over-reaching requirements for abortion facilities

Texas-ACOG opposes unnecessary requirements that may be extremely difficult and in some cases impossible to meet, without a basis in public health or safety.

Additionally, "SB 5 ignores an appeal by the Texas Medical Association, representing more than 47,000 member physicians and medical students, that the legislature not insert itself in the relationship between patients and their physicians." From: http://www.kirkwatson.com/reasons-support-womens-health-oppose-sb-5/


S5 also doesn't allow for abortion in the case of rape. 'The debate was heated and emotional. Houston Democratic Rep. Senfronia Thompson, vigorously shaking a coat hanger to warn of the potential for botched home abortions, argued to add an exception for rape or incest.' - http://trailblazersblog.dallasnews.com/2013/06/texas-house-tentatively-passes-abortion-bill.html/

There's some scary shit going on in Texas re: rape. Here's a little tidbit on rapist custody. Google "31 states rapist" and you'll be astounded.http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/26/pregnant-rape-abortion_n_2552183.html. Quote: "If a woman who conceives through rape does go on to have the child, she can open herself up to being victimized by her rapist again and again. In 31 states, paternal rapists are allowed to sue for custody and visitation rights like any other father..." When abortions are illegal, there are going to be a lot more custody fights that I do not want to ever see happen.

Here's a piece of data about the effect this bill will have on women that are raped:http://www.mysanantonio.com/news/politics/texas_legislature/article/Texas-House-panel-stamps-OK-on-bills-to-restrict-4615501.php. A quote: 'Democrats and pro-abortion-rights advocates argue the proposals would deny abortions even to women who are rapedand would lead to 37 of the state's 42 abortion clinics being forced to close, leaving facilities only in San Antonio, Houston, Dallas, and Austin.'

And I don't think the sponsor of the bill even gets the joke.


"In the emergency room they have what’s called rape kits, where a woman can get cleaned out," said state Rep. Jodie Laubenberg (R), [the] sponsor of the controversialSB 5, according to The Associated Press. This is taken from:http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/24/jodie-laubenberg-texas-rape_n_3493220.html


Refer to: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/soraya-chemaly/jodie-laubenberg-rape-kits_b_3491715.html Here are two tidbits: A rape kit is a forensic tool used to collect evidence of sexual assault. A rape kit is not an abortion.


I have lately been looking closely at the facts presented by the World Health Organization: simply put: the harder it is to obtain an abortion and sex education, the more abortions there are and the more deaths there are of women, not to mention mutilation. There's a ton of stuff out there about abortion's legality, but here's the part that kills any argument for making abortions illegal for me: "Highly restrictive abortion laws are not associated with lower abortion rates. For example, the abortion rate is 29 per 1,000 women of childbearing age in Africa and 32 per 1,000 in Latin America—regions in which abortion is illegal under most circumstances in the majority of countries. The rate is 12 per 1,000 in Western Europe, where abortion is generally permitted on broad grounds." That's fromhttp://www.guttmacher.org/pubs/fb_IAW.html

A video that explains the top level issues on "Improving maternal health by preventing unsafe abortion" http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=Os_NoidZVLs#at=25. "There are 22 million unsafe abortions and close to 50,000 maternal deaths each year."


It's easy for us to debate whether abortion is "right" as people that have air conditioning and college educations, but when you look at the abject poverty in the state of Texas, let alone the world, there's no way I can see keeping them all in poverty by essentially forcing those uneducated women to have each and every baby each and every time they get pregnant. It's the same as telling them that they are supposed to be barefoot and pregnant, because the education level of their sperm donors is, often, really around that IQ level. More onpoverty and effects on intelligence levels:http://www.sciencenews.org/view/generic/id/68757/description/Neuroscience_exposes_pernicious_effects_of_poverty. Here's a quote: "How does poverty affect the brain? Executive function and self-control is lower, language skills are lower, IQ is lower, attention — the ability to focus on one thing and ignore distracting informationis poorer and working memory is poorer. Those cognitive skills are different."


The reality of the situation is dismal and dire. During the hearing for HB2, the phoenix of SB5, "El Paso Representative Mary Gonzalez reminded her Republican colleagues thatlimiting abortion access doesn’t stop abortion, it just makes them unsafe. She also asked how her poor constituents, some of whom have no running water, could reasonably be expected to travel to San Antonio for an abortion. “I’m telling you what’s happening in MY community,” she said; under SB5, her community will be 600 miles away from the nearest abortion clinic." From: http://www.thefrisky.com/2013-06-24/5-things-you-need-to-know-about-texas-anti-abortion-bills-and-the-feminist-army-fighting-them/

If this bill becomes law, they will no longer have any freedom - they will become baby factories and churn out more poverty ridden children. Ugh. I can't imagine how that is acceptable.

This book opened my mind to the ramifications of poverty and our future:http://www.questar.org/services/rse-tasc-ii/presentations/behavior/Teaching-with-Poverty-in-Mind.pdf. A free download of the book is available here:http://www.ebook3000.com/Teaching-with-Poverty-in-Mind_47581.html. Poverty meansthat people are "More Likely to Display: "Acting-out” behaviors; Impatience and impulsivity; Gaps in politeness and social graces; A more limited range of behavioral responses; Inappropriate emotional responses; Less empathy for others' misfortunes." Does that sound like "absinence is #1 on the list?" I don't think so.


Another poverty / abortion availability article "Abortion Poverty Study Finds Link Between Lack Of Access And Income" http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/11/14/abortion-poverty-study_n_2130890.html. A quote: "Researchers found that a year after seeking an abortion, more than three-quarters of the women turned away were on public assistance and 67 percent were below the poverty line. Fewer than half of those turned away held a full-time job."


The educational company I was recently working for allowed me to see a heart-wrenching level of poverty in Waco, just a few miles away from the I35 freeway. It made me cry. When I hear that it's worse than that in a huge amount of Texas, much less the rest of the United States, I just cannot believe that people would stand for this. But I don't think people really get it. They haven't seen it. They haven't experienced it. And it is bad, really, really bad. Here are some Texas poverty facts: http://texaspolitics.laits.utexas.edu/12_2_0.html The report was from 2007.

§ "Texas ... has a higher rate of poverty for its population as a whole than has the US..."

§ 23.8% of all poor Texans are Anglo, and 15.8% are African-American, but well over half (53%) are Hispanic.

§ [T]he rate of poverty among the two minority groups is three times greater than among the Anglo population.

§ [T]he two largest racial minority groups in the state (African-Americans and Hispanics) (are these the proper labels?) will within the next few years together constitute a majority of the of the state's population.

§ [I]f we take as a definition of a "place" any settlement that has at least a thousand households, then Cameron Park [in Cameron County, Texas] was in 2005 the poorest place in the United States.

§ Cameron and Hidalgo counties also had the highest poverty rates of any counties in the United States; each had a rate of about 41%. Again, for comparison's sake, El Paso had a poverty rate of 29% [see comment above about 600 miles to an abortion clinic under this bill]. Finally, of the ten poorest counties in the United States, Texas had El Paso (sixth) and Lubbock (tenth) in addition to Cameron and Hidalgo. Texas was thus the only state to have more than one of the poorest ten counties nation-wide, and it had four. This table [http://www.laits.utexas.edu/txp_media/html/pov/features/ten_counties/slide1.html] illustrates Texas's predominance among the ten poorest counties in the United States.


Here are some more numbers; this time about poverty and pregnancy:http://www.thenationalcampaign.org/why-it-matters/pdf/poverty.pdf. Simplest thing to quote: "Two-thirds of families begun by a young unmarried mother are poor."


Whatever the case, the main thing people like you and I can do to affect things one way or another is vote. My comments here won't likely wind up changing your opinion much if at all, but I certainly want them to. I've changed a lot of my opinions over the years when confronted with facts and reality I could touch, so I know there's a chance. But this bill / law isn't about whether it's alive or not - it's about what we do for the people that are pregnant and how we teach them to not get pregnant. Here's how to vote: http://www.votetexas.gov/


For fun, I asked my daughter what she was taught about pregnancy in her school so far. She said they talked about STDs, but never how a woman gets pregnant, let alone how they would avoid it. And that's in schools where the 13 year old Hispanic girls say "I'm going to get pregnant at 13 just like my mom did because I want to get married and have a man take care of me as soon as possible." It breaks my heart. Because that's not what happens.


Here's a place to go to learn more about how I feel about sex education (in Texas schools), which is the only way to keep pregnancy from creating these issues in the first place:http://www.tfn.org/site/PageServer?pagename=issues_public_schools_sex_education. Google sex education in Texas schools. Appalling. Here's an interesting slide show from a Texas educator, reviewing and recommending policies in Texas:http://www.austinisd.org/sites/default/files/dept/shac/docs/SHAC_Dr_Wiley_Sexuality_Education_Presentation.pdf. Here's something for teachers, that never made it to my daughter:http://curriculum.austinisd.org/pe_health/ms/health/less_supp.html. The "best" one of these presenations is here: curriculum.austinisd.org/pe_health/ms/health/documents/HE_68_8sex_less8_att_Contraceptivesppt_1213.ppt, and it's not even particularly good in my opinion.


A quote from the above link (http://www.tfn.org/site/PageServer?pagename=issues_public_schools_sex_education): "Texas has one of the highest teen birthrates in the nation. Yet state policy makers remain stubbornly committed topromoting a failed abstinence-only approach to sex education. In 2004, for example, the State Board of Education adopted new health textbooks that included no medically accurate information about contraception and STD prevention. Research by the Texas Freedom Network Education Fund has also shown that most schools in the state employ strict abstinence-only-until-marriage policies on sex education." Here's some data on what happens in states with abstinence only education policies:http://thinkprogress.org/health/2012/04/10/461402/teen-pregnancy-sex-education/?mobile=nc. Another good link for data: http://www.tfn.org/site/PageServer?pagename=issues_public_schools_2011_sex_ed_report. Plus you can download the entire report at: http://www.tfn.org/site/DocServer/Report_final_web.pdf?docID=2941

It is for these reasons above, punctuated by my daughter's comments about girls / women that do not even know what birth control is or where babies come from, that make me cringe when I read things on my Facebook wall like 'As for womens right to do what they want with their body? They can choose with whom, where and when to have sex.'

In case anyone thinks Planned Parenthood is all about abortion, here's their take on abstinence: http://www.plannedparenthood.org/health-topics/birth-control/abstinence-4215.htm


Then I think about the fact that people do have sex for pleasure (unmarried or married), and do not wish to become pregnant. If we were to force every pregnancy that started as pleasure only to come to term, wow, that's a world I do not want to live in. Women would, at that point, be cattle that are forced to breed. I cannot stand for that on principle.

As an aside, I spent 15 minutes trying to find anything on this (i.e. it's okay to have sex without thinking you're going to have to have a baby) athttp://www.vatican.va/phome_en.htm. Couldn't find anything one way or the other. Maybe you know where to look?


I think that people that *really* believe that all pregnancies should come to term should look long and hard at every woman they pass in life and tell them "if you get pregnant, it's your fault, and you should have to bring each and every pregnancy full term, as if you were an animal that didn't have a choice or know better." Or maybe just say "if you get pregnant, it's your fault." Then, I think we'd all be at a level where we know what we're really talking about. And I'm also not sure those interactions would go over well.

The "you asked for it" mentality is pervasive in today's rape culture. Here's a highlight of what "rape culture" is: http://www.marshall.edu/wpmu/wcenter/sexual-assault/rape-culture/And here's a quote for those of you that don't click that: "Most women and girls live in fear of rape. Men, in general, do not."


This is what infuriates me about religion (maybe not yours) and the "life begins at conception" mindset. It is very easy to say that "life begins at conception" and sit smugly while others, that don't even pretend to answer that question, grapple with how to allow them to make choices that affect their bodies and future. Those that believe abortion should be safe and legal are fighting for women to exist and enjoy their bodies as much as a man does, because it is only women that have the Sword of Damocles of pregnancy hanging over their wombs.


I use the word "smugly" because I know a young woman that took the "life begins at conception" mindset based upon her religious upbringing. She simply refused to believe that girls and women were tricked into sex, raped, and held hostage by their wombs, no matter how much evidence I put in front of her. I told her about my friends that were in abusive, marital and non-marital relationships that were compounded into misery by men that forcibly took birth control options away or wouldn't use any so they'd bear them baby after baby. I told her about my family members that have been in those relationships where their religion told them that being fruitful was their goal and that women were supposed to be pregnant. I told her about the lack of sex education in schools and at home. I told her about my daughter being threatened by rape at her middle school. I told her about the other little girls that were raped at her middle school. I told her about the 13 year old pregnancies at those schools. I told her about the abject poverty some of my friends have lived in (to this day) because they got pregnant "before they knew better" (their words). I told her that some of the girls my daughter went to school with believed there were ways you could keep from being pregnant, none of which were based in facts, like just "take a bath afterwards" and things of that nature. NONE of this made a difference; not even a dent. I sent her the World Health Organization stats (see above). I told her of the lack of sex education in Texas schools. I went on and on, believe me. Still... nothing. Not a dent. Still has that opinion as far as I can tell.

I think that goes to show that some people won't listen to (what I consider to be) reason.


I do know this: abortion is awful and is not something ANYONE wants to go through. But, allowing it is the right thing to do for women. Plus... it's (currently) the law. If outlawing it made it go away and the NEED for it go away, I'd say outlaw it. But it doesn't and that's reality.

"The consequences [of illegal abortion] can be horrific. Unsafe abortion is a leading cause of maternal death. Every year, 47,000 women die from complications of unsafe abortion. Virtually all of these deaths occur in countries with highly restrictive abortion laws. Millions more are injured, some seriously and permanently." - from http://www.guttmacher.org/media/video/wwa-motion-graphic-script.html


Women are not animals, but they are treated like them all over the world. But if you believe they are property, you should check out:http://womenareproperty.com/GOP_Status_Report__Women_are_property!/Welcome.html


Feel free to light this up with comments. I'm willing to listen and discuss, but I will never believe that women should be cattle or that they should be forced to take every pregnancy to term. Ever. Good luck trying to convince me.

If your argument is: "life begins at conception," and/or "if you get pregnant, it's your fault," just register your votes for those; there's nothing else I can do for you.


PS I do vote, and this particular issue does taint my decision.



Find out who represents you in the state government, figure out how to contact them, and reach out to them and let them know that this is an important issue to you. Let them know that you view SB5/HB2 as a bill that does the opposite of what it claims, that it endangers women's health, and that even a cursory look at the science will tell anyone as much. Let them know that you'll be paying attention to how they vote, and you will keep their voting record in mind when it's time for them to run for re-election in the future. Most politicians hear from their actual constituents so infrequently, that even a handful of people from your district calling or emailing them on this topic could be enough to sway their vote. So, do vote, but reach out as well.

Planned Parenthood has some way easy to click and fill out forms here:https://secure.ppaction.org/site/Advocacy?page=UserActionInactive&id=15123

Stop the Texas abortion ban (i.e. HB 2, SB 5)


Here's some additional help:

Find Your US Representative http://www.house.gov/representatives/find/

Who Represents Me in Texas? http://www.fyi.legis.state.tx.us/Home.aspx

Texas Legislature Online - What's Happening http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/



7/7/13 4am: Added a section on ways to get involved, based upon a friend's comments.

7/10/2013 12am-1:30am: Added a quote from the bill under the URL. Boldfaced and italicized some points. Reworded / formatted the "Get Involved" Section. Added quotes / comments to the poverty / IQ section. Added a status section at top. Updated status section. Added the "related bills" link to the other note.

7/10/2013 4:15am Added a video to the Abortion Rates section.

7/10/2013 1:00pm Updated status of bill. Changed title of note to "Status of #HB2 Texas Second Special Session, 2013 (was: My first pro-choice note. Thanks, #SB5 / #HB2)"

7/10/2013 5:30pm Added the results of the vote for Stage 3.

7/12/2013 3:45am Updated status. Added section for more detail on amendments.

7/20/2013 12:38am Updated status.


  1. Originally a Facebook post. Now anyone should be able to read this and comment on it.

  2. I reposted this because I didn't want to write over the old one. This has some new edits, like the final passage.