The 2015 legislative session produced a number of pro-life victories that were advanced by TCC members:
HB 3994 (Morrison et al./Perry): Strengthens parental consent requirements for minors seeking an abortion.
Since 2000, the state of Texas has required that minors seeking abortions do so with parental consent, or else must be granted judicial bypass from this requirement. House Bill 3994 (Morrison et al./Perry) tightens this process by requiring that a woman seeking an abortion present to the abortion provider a valid government-issued photo ID to confirm that she is of-age to legally seek an elective abortion without parental consent or judicial bypass. If a physician is unable to see such an ID but chooses to perform the abortion, the physician must document to the Department of State Health Services (DSHS) that such information was not obtained, and DSHS will report the number of abortions performed each year for which age and proof of identity are not provided. The bill also amends and strengthens the judicial bypass procedure.
HB 416 (Riddle et al./Campbell): Requires employees and volunteers at abortion facilities to complete human trafficking training.
Under the provisions of HB 416 (Riddle et.al./ Campbell), any employee, volunteer, or contractor of a licensed abortion facility or ambulatory surgical center that performs 50 or more abortions per year must undergo a human trafficking education and training program as prescribed by the Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC). The hope is that such a curriculum will train individuals working in these facilities to identify victims of human trafficking so that intervention and assistance can be provided, and no woman is forced to undergo an abortion against her will.
Floor Amendment #3 (Morrison) to HB 1891: Prohibiting community schools from using or providing referrals to abortion providers and their affiliates.
House Bill 1891 establishes a model for community schools which, according to the bill author’s analysis, are “public schools open throughout the year to students, families, and community members before, during, and after school hours.” Supporters contended that while these schools provide quality education and engage the community, prior to legislation there was no definition or model to follow. The legislation also allows certain eligible underperforming campuses to adopt a community school reform option in lieu of full scale reconstitution.
A floor amendment by Rep. Geanie Morrison was added to the bill that statutorily prohibits community schools from:
- Providing abortion-related services
- Providing referrals to abortion providers or their affiliates
- Partnering with an abortion provider or affiliate in transitioning to a community school
- Hiring an employee of an abortion provider or affiliate as the community school coordinator
Budgetary Provisions in the 2016-2017 General Appropriations Act
DSHS Rider 72: Prohibits abortion providers and affiliates from participating in the Breast and Cervical Cancer Services (BCCS) Program. This prohibition currently applies to providers in the Texas Women’s Health Program and will be extended to the BCCS program when the new budget becomes effective on September 1, 2105.
HHSC Rider 31: Prohibits the use of any state-funded human sexuality or family planning instruction or materials provided or produced by abortion providers or their affiliates.
HHSC Rider 85:
- Prohibits the use of any state funds to pay direct or indirect costs associated with abortion procedures provided by any state contractors
- Prohibits the distribution of any Women’s Health Services for Family Planning funds to elective abortion providers or any entities that contract with or provide funds to elective abortion providers
- Requires HHSC to include in its financial audit a review of the use of these funds to ensure compliance with these provisions
HHSC Rider 87: Lays out the requirements that must be met in order for the affiliate of any elective abortion provider to receive family planning funds. Any affiliate must prove: legal separation; easily distinguishable names; separate boards of directors and governing bodies; no direct or indirect transfer of family planning funds to the abortion-services affiliate; detailed employee timekeeping; clear signage; and separate financial books.
HB 3074 (Springer et al./Schwertner): Required provision of artificially administered nutrition and hydration to sustain life.
Under the provisions of HB 3074, artificially administered nutrition and hydration must be provided to patients under the Texas Advance Directives Act unless, based on reasonable medical judgment, providing artificially administered nutrition and hydration would:
(1) hasten the patient’s death;
(2) be medically contraindicated such that the provision of the treatment seriously exacerbates life-threatening medical problems not outweighed by the benefit of the provision of the treatment;
(3) result in substantial irremediable physical pain not outweighed by the benefit of the provision of the treatment;
(4) be medically ineffective in prolonging life; or
(5) be contrary to the patient’s or surrogate’s clearly documented desire not to receive artificially administered nutrition or hydration.
Prior to enactment of this legislation, Texas law relating to advance directives lacked clarity and potentially allowed for the withdrawal of food, water and pain medication without medical standards for doing so. HB 3074 clarifies that prolonging life is the default priority.