Women Faced With Less Rights In Texas As House Panel Considers 20 Week Abortion Ban


Texas is moving forward with legislation that would ban abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy. The House State Affairs Committee is taking up  the controversial bill and will decide whether or not to approve it for a full House vote.

HB 2364 would bar women from choosing to get an abortion after 20 weeks. The bill does not include exceptions for victims of rape or incest and only allows an abortion if the life of the pregnant woman is in danger.

Republicans say the bill is necessary because fetuses allegedly feel pain at 20 weeks of development. Texas Governor Rick Perry echoed that claim when he threw his support behind the bill in March, stating:

“Texas has done a great deal of work over the last several years to nurture our culture of life, and we will continue to do everything we can to protect the lives of the unborn, until abortion is finally a thing of the past.”

Indeed, Texas has waged war against a woman’s right to choose for 40 years now. Ever since the Supreme Court ruled that abortion rights were constitutionally protected in Roe v. Wade, a case that originated in Texas, the state has made every effort to chip away at those rights. The 20 week abortion ban would advance Texas Republican’s goal to ban abortion entirely.

If the bill eventually passes, Texas would become the twelfth state in the nation to ban abortion after 20 weeks, joining Arizona, Arkansas, Alaska, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Nebraska, North Carolina, and Oklahoma. These laws, of course, are totally unconstitutional and fly in the face of accepted medical science.

Banning abortion after 20 weeks is unconstitutional because the Supreme Court ruled in Roe v. Wade that states cannot ban abortion until week 24, which is when a fetus becomes viable to survive outside of the womb. The Supreme Court has remained consistent in the 40 years since. A federal judge in Idaho recently struck down that state’s 20-week ban as unconstitutional, which could and should doom every 20-week ban in the country.

Medical science also firmly contradicts Republican claims that fetuses feel pain at 20 weeks. The Journal of the American Medical Association has found that fetal pain is unlikely to occur before the third trimester. Furthermore, the New Scientist reported on the findings of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists in England and summarized their conclusion as follows:

“The report concludes that fetuses under 24 weeks must be pain-free, because at that age the wiring doesn’t exist to send pain signals from nerves around the body to the cortex, the area of the brain where pain is experienced. At which later point such connections form is unknown, so analgesia should still be considered after 24 weeks, the RCOG says.”

That’s real science.

If Republicans really want to reduce the number of abortions in Texas, they should make contraception more accessible to women across the state and inform girls early on about preventing pregnancy with contraception in sex education courses.

A recent study in Texas found that 45% of the women obtaining an abortion in the state said:

“In the three months prior to becoming pregnant they had been unable to access their preferred form of birth control; 50% of those women said that was because the contraception cost too much, that they couldn’t find a clinic to provide the birth control, or that they had a problem obtaining a prescription.”

By not giving women accessible and affordable contraception, Texas Republicans are actually responsible for the increased number of unwanted pregnancies in the state, and therefore, the associated number of abortions. Kind of contradicts Rick Perry’s claim that the Texas GOP is “nurturing a culture of life,” doesn’t it?

So instead of attacking a woman’s right to choose by passing forced ultrasounds and 20-week bans, perhaps Texas Republicans should do their jobs and pass a bill that will provide easier access to contraception and make it less expensive so that women will choose to protect themselves during sex rather than having to decide whether or not to have an abortion later. But that would require Republicans to understand studies, science, the Constitution, women, and simple logic. And that’s a tough thing to ask for from a party that has embraced stupidity and extremism.