Rep. Stephanie Klick
Editor’s note: This column was written for the Business Press by Republican State Rep. Stephanie Klick in response to Democrats’ criticism of the abortion bill recently passed by the Texas Legislature.
The abortion debate inside and outside the Texas Capitol reached an unprecedented fervor. Supporters on both sides of the issue held rallies at the capitol, testified on the bill late into the night, and contacted their state representatives and state senators to voice their opinion. The first debate over this bill ended after a vote to pass it took place two minutes after the midnight deadline, just as the first special session ended. This was due in part to a filibuster and the continuous shouting down of senators to prevent a vote from the Senate gallery. Among the groups that participated in the shouting were the International Socialist Organization, Occupy Austin and Planned Parenthood.
This unfounded suppression of the vote took place despite the fact that nearly two-thirds of Texans responding to a University of Texas/Texas Tribune poll supported the provisions in the bill. The vast majority of the public supported the bill because they recognize it is pro-women, pro-life and pro-patient. If it was anything less, I believe the public and the Legislature would have rejected it.
House Bill 2 was formulated around two major components. The first component restricts abortion procedures after 20 weeks unless the mother’s health is at risk. Twenty weeks of gestation was chosen because advances in science show us that the unborn child can feel pain at that stage in a pregnancy. Research published in the Best Practice & Research Clinical Anesthesiology journal and other medical studies (found on doctorsonfetalpain.org) show that “pain receptors (nociceptors) are present throughout the unborn child’s entire body by no later than 20 weeks.” Although some question whether unborn children can feel pain, fetal anesthesia is routinely administered by doctors during surgery to prevent unborn children from feeling pain. Also, at 20 weeks, an unborn child has a heartbeat, has facial expressions, grows fingernails, swallows and is able to hear the mother’s voice.
The standards found in this bill are not uncommon. In fact, nine other states have similar 20-week prohibitions related to pain because it is in the state’s interest to protect unborn children from the agony experienced during this procedure. It is important to note that a significant number of the traditionally liberal European countries have stricter laws in place, including a ban on abortions after 12 weeks. The second major component will raise the standards of abortion clinics to those of ambulatory surgical centers. According to the Texas Tribune, 28 other states require that abortion facilities operate under ambulatory standards. Massachusetts even requires abortions to be done at a hospital after 12 weeks of gestation.
Under previous law in Texas, abortions had to be performed in an ambulatory center after 16 weeks of gestation. The new law signed July 18 by Gov. Perry merely raises the level of care for women, by making the use of ambulatory center standards universal for abortions. Women will now be confident that their doctors have admission privileges at a hospital within 30 miles in the event that something goes wrong during the procedure. Women taking abortion-inducing drugs will finally be required to adhere to Federal Food and Drug Administration standards and in dosages prescribed by the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists Practice Bulletin. Women taking these drugs will be monitored more closely as well. The passage of House Bill 2 also promotes the cause that both sides believe in, which is to make abortions safe and rare.
Stephanie Klick is the state representative for House District 91, representing North Richland Hills, Richland Hills, Watauga, Haltom City and parts of Fort Worth. She works as a nursing consultant.