The state of Texas recently passed the toughest anti-abortion law in the US. The bill was met with protests from residents and from some in Senate. Despite opposition to the bill, it was passed by the Senate at the beginning of July. On Thursday, Governor Rick Perry signed the bill into law during a heavily guarded bill-signing ceremony.
Perry described the day of the bill signing as “happy and celebratory.” He went on to state that “this is an important day for those who support life and for those who support the health of Texas women. . . we celebrate and further cement the foundation on which the culture of life in Texas is built.” The governor’s statement praising the “culture of life” in the state seemed a little out of place given that Texas just carried out its 500th execution a few weeks ago.
Under the new law, abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy are banned. The current standard for viability in the rest of the medical community is 24 weeks. The law also requires that any abortion inducing drugs be administered and supervised by a physician.
Most critically, the law can lead to the closure of nearly all of the state’s abortion clinics. Under the new law, an abortion center must be a registered surgical center. Any doctor who performs abortions must have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals. Currently, only five of the 42 clinics in the state meet those requirements.
Those who defend the law believe it will protect women and that it is needed in response to new understandings about the ability of fetuses to feel pain. Although 24-weeks is the medically accepted standard for viability, Governor Perry argues that advances in science and technology are making it possible for a fetus to survive outside the womb earlier. According to supporters of the new law, it is also meant to protect women from unethical providers such as Kermit Gosnell. Gosnell operated a clinic in Philadelphia that broke numerous laws and endangered the lives of his patients. He was convicted of murder.
Although the law might have the support of Governor Perry and might officially be law for the moment, it’s anticipated that someone will challenge it in court. Polls revealed that most of the state was not in favor of the bill. About 80 percent of those polled did not want abortion to be covered in the special session. Before the bill was voted on and as it was signed into law, protesters flooded the gallery of the Senate and stood outside on the lawn, wearing orange and carrying hangers.
A lawsuit against the bill could be brought to the courts on the basis of Roe Vs. Wade, which was ruled on by the Supreme Court 40 years ago. It could be found that the new anti-abortion law puts too many obstacles in the way of a woman who is seeking an abortion in Texas.