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Senate committee hears debate on abortion bills

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A view from outside the Texas State Capitol

"This bill is full of false, medically inaccurate, ideological language created to further stigmatize and shame women receiving abortion care", Hennessy said, going on to argue that the proposed law flies in the face of the advice of many medical professionals.

The high court overturned Texas' 2013 law known as HB2, which Republican lawmakers presented as a safeguard to protect women.

"Stop regulating murder and instead abolish abortion altogether", one witness said in a frequently echoed statement. Schwertner said the motivation behind the bill came from 2015 video footage alleging Planned Parenthood had sold fetal organs. Charles Perry, R-Lubbock. That bill would require the fetal heartbeat to be stopped through an additional procedure prior to extraction.

Meanwhile, Huffines defended his SB 258, which would require the cremation or burial of fetal remains.

Senate Bill 415 would prohibit dismemberment abortions- a type of abortion in which non-suction instruments are used to remove a fetus in pieces. "What about this bill enhances the health and safety of the woman?"

"I'm here on behalf of all absent women, families and doctors across the state whose lives will be negatively impacted by this bill", began the testimony of Maggie Hennessy, a UT student and intern with NARAL Pro-Choice Texas. "We are not outlawing D&Es", which he said account for 96 percent of second-trimester abortions.

Sen. Don Huffines, R-Dallas, who introduced SB 238, said that the intent of his legislation is only to protect "the dignity of the unborn" by ensuring that fetal remains are not treated as medical waste. "Right now, House Bill 948 is the only one defending life in the entire Texas Legislature".

Current state law allows surgical abortions up to 20 weeks into a pregnancy, unless a woman's life is in danger or severe fetal abnormalities are discovered.

"It is hard to imagine a more gruesome way to die", Harrison said.

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Amanda Williams, who runs the abortion-rights group, the Lilith Fund, testified that proponents of the legislation were seeking to shame women who make the decision to legally terminate their pregnancy.

Harrison continued, "If veterinarians ripped apart living dogs or cats to kill them in the same way that a living fetus is ripped apart in the D&E procedure the outcry would be deafening".

After about eight hours of discussion and that included public testimony from about 150 people, the committee adjourned without voting on the proposals.

"To me, the idea that anyone would seek to profit from the sale of fetal tissue is beyond abhorrent, it's just evil", said Schwertner, author of Senate Bill 8.

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson signed into a law a bill similar to Perry's proposal last month The ban is among a push by abortion opponents nationally and at statehouses around the country with Republicans in control of the White House and Congress. Trump's first nominee to the Supreme Court, Neil Gorsuch, has a conservative legal philosophy seen as similar to the late Justice Antonin Scalia's.

The hearing opened with state Sen.

That Schwertner broke a table while trying to silence a woman opposing a bill that would exclusively impact women is all the more jarring considering the events that grabbed headlines last week. A subsequent investigation by the Harris County District Attorney's office found no wrongdoing by Planned Parenthood.

SB 8 would also ban partial-birth abortions in Texas- a type of late-term abortion that was outlawed in the USA more than a decade ago. Reproductive rights advocates are anxious at the state and federal level as conservative lawmakers prepare for intensified attacks to limit access to abortion, while anti-abortion lawmakers are examining ways to tighten up restrictions on abortion providers.

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