Monday, June 24, 2013

Texas Congress Special Session Focuses On Abortion

The Texas Senate and House, in a special session, consider, debate and vote on a suite of abortion related bills.

In a special session, the Texas 83rd Legislature convened in an effort to conclude some unfinished business. The regular session concluded in late May. However, the congress resumed an extended session starting on June 11, 2013.

From June 17th-21st the legislature concentrated on bills referring to the state legislative districts in preparation for future state Senator and Representative elections.

However, on June 23rd and 24th, both houses seem to be concentrating, primarily, on bills dealing with various abortion issues.

Prohibition on Abortion After 20 Weeks

SB5 is a comprehensive abortion regulation bill. The portions of the bill governing abortions 20 weeks after fertilization comes from companion bills filed in both the Texas House and Senate. SB13 and HB16 contain the majority of the law. The later-filed bills were, essentially, smaller portions of the comprehensive SB5. The hopes were that should SB5 fail to pass, one portion or another of the comprehensive bill would pass.

The house postponed its vote on HB16. It passed the more comprehensive SB5, with amendments. The Senate still has SB13 pending a floor vote, and entered on the calender. It is still scheduled for a floor vote on the 24th or the near future. More than likely, it will be postponed or tabled, since SB5 passed both chambers.

Legislation On Abortion Inducing Drugs

SB5 contains elements of another bill seeing action in the summer session. SB5 contains much of SB18, which is pending a Senate floor vote. SB 18 is designed to regulate abortion inducing pharmaceuticals. SB18 was a precursor to SB97, which was filed later. All three of the above named bills contain similar text. SB 5 has passed both houses, setting the stage for further legislation in regards to "abortion pills". Mental Aikido reported on SB97 when it was first introduced.

Comprehensive Abortion Legislation, SB5: 

Senate Bill SB 5 passed the House, amended, then passed the Senate with the House's Amendments. The bill includes the following criminal code:

 Sec. 171.0031.  REQUIREMENTS OF PHYSICIAN; OFFENSE. (a)  A physician performing or inducing an abortion: 
             (1)  must, on the date the abortion is performed, have active admitting privileges at a hospital that: 
                   (A)  is located not further than 30 miles from the location at which the abortion is performed or induced; and 
                   (B)  provides obstetrical or gynecological health care services.

Violation of these stipulations carry a $4k fine and a Class A Misdemeanor conviction.

SB5 also prohibits all abortions after 20 weeks of gestation.

       Sec. 171.044.  ABORTION OF UNBORN CHILD OF 20 OR MORE WEEKS POST-FERTILIZATION AGE PROHIBITED. Except as otherwise provided by Section 171.046, a person may not perform or induce or attempt to perform or induce an abortion on a woman if it has been determined, by the physician performing, inducing, or attempting to perform or induce the abortion or by another physician on whose determination that physician relies, that the probable post-fertilization age of the unborn child is 20 or more weeks.
The bill also governs the use of abortive pharmaceuticals or "abortion pills", requiring verification of the post-fertilization age of the child. In addition, it limits who is authorized to prescribe the drugs.

(a)  A person may not knowingly give, sell, dispense, administer, provide, or prescribe an abortion-inducing drug to a pregnant woman for the purpose of inducing an abortion in the pregnant woman or enabling another person to induce an abortion in the pregnant woman unless:
             (1)  the person who gives, sells, dispenses, administers, provides, or prescribes the abortion-inducing drug is a physician; and
             (2)  except as otherwise provided by Subsection (a-1), the provision, prescription, or administration of the abortion-inducing drug satisfies the protocol tested and authorized by the United States Food and Drug Administration as outlined in the final printed label of the abortion-inducing drug.
       (a-1)  A person may provide, prescribe, or administer the abortion-inducing drug in the dosage amount prescribed by the clinical management guidelines defined by the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists Practice Bulletin as those guidelines existed on January 1, 2013. 
       (b)  Before the physician gives, sells, dispenses, administers, provides, or prescribes an abortion-inducing drug, the physician must examine the pregnant woman and document, in the woman's medical record, the gestational age and intrauterine location of the pregnancy.

The bill also stipulates qualifications and locations where abortions can take place. They must be conducted in a licensed and approved/inspected surgical facility. The procedure must be conducted as an elective surgery unless performed in an emergency, life-saving manner. In the case of medical emergencies after 20 weeks, all feasible attempts to save the life of the child must be taken.

The bill does not violate Roe v Wade. There is no federal preemptive law applicable. The law is not designed to punish mothers or women. The listed punitive measures apply to medical personnel involved, maintaining the privacy of the patients/mothers.

The full text of SB5 forwarded to Governor Rick Perry for signature can be found here.

Discussion and Analysis

SB5 was filed before the case against convicted murderer and abortionist Kermit Gosnell came to light. However, on the heels of the Gosnell verdict and currently pending similar criminal cases, this bill clarifies that late-term abortions in Texas are illegal.

By and large, I am pro-choice. That statement makes conservatives cringe. The term "pro-choice" cannot be restricted to only the abortion debate, but all individual natural rights. It is on that basis that I maintain a "pro-choice" stance.

"Pro-Choice" is only half of the equation. The other half is accepting responsibility for the consequences. I firmly believe that all humans were imbued with the divinely-give blessing/curse of "free will". We have the right to choose, so long as we do so fully prepared to accept responsibility for the consequences of those choices. It is not a license to exercise moral relativity expecting impunity.

If you choose to drive in excess of the posted speed-limit, you chose to break the law. You accept responsibility for any collision it may cause. You accept responsibility for any harm to person or property your action may generate. You accept the fines and punishments a court may impose upon you. You made an adult decision and must accept the consequences.

You decide to exercise your right to free speech and insult some dude's mother, then you accept the consequences when he busts your mouth open with his fist. He then accepts the consequences of a possible battery conviction.

The same goes for terminating a life. When dealing with the life of an innocent, the potential consequences are great. They should not be mitigated any more than is reasonable in the given circumstances.

With free will, we are allowed to make choices. We are allowed to make bad choices. We are allowed to make unethical and immoral choices. With making those choices we must accept the repercussions, the effects, the consequences. We can choose to murder. In doing so, we accept the legal, spiritual, and psychological ramifications, to include punishment.

This comes with being an adult. If one believes herself mature enough to make the adult choice to participate in an action, one accepts the full adult responsibilities. That goes along with smoking cigarettes. You make the choice, you accept all of the health consequences. The same thinking goes along with sexual intercourse. If you believe yourself mature enough to make the decision to take that action, you also make the decision to accept responsibility for any life you create. There is no moral relativity. It is that "black and white".

It is the reason why minors, under 18, who decide to commit certain felonies and capital crimes can be tried as adults. They made the adult decisions. They deserve the adult consequences. 

I was born premature. I was also born before the controversial judicial activism known as Roe v Wade. I was not given great odds in "making it". However, after some time in an incubator, I survived and have since thrived. I grew into an adult man. I made an adult decision to serve my country for over 20 years. Since that decision, I faced many moral and ethical decisions in my life. Far too many of them were "life and death" decisions.

I oppose abortions as a general rule. However, I accept that there may be circumstances that should allow for that decision to be legal. I do not agree with abortions in cases of rape. But I understand why a woman may see otherwise. I respect her right to make that decision and live with the consequences. Legal consequences do not need to add to the already traumatic and heart-breaking situation. The rape victim has suffered enough.

I do support abortions in cases of incest, though. Too much scientific evidence demonstrates potential defects and other dangers to both mother and child in cases of incestuous pregnancies. In many of those cases, the victim is well under 18 and had no real choice in the events leading to her pregnancy. Like with rape cases, the victim has suffered enough, perhaps even more.

In both of these cases, I contend that it is still an individual decision that the mother needs to be free to make. She needs to be properly informed. She needs the data. She needs the freedom to make that very adult decision that has been thrust upon her, against her will.  

SB 5 still allows choice. It does not legislate morality. It applies morals and ethics to current science, defining the legal consequences of those decisions.