What’s Really Going on Behind Texas SB 5

The endgame is simple - Perry and the GOP are looking for another showdown on Roe v. Wade
Opinion • Views: 41,497

Texan Wendy Davis thwarted Gov. Rick Perry and the GOP legislature’s attempt to cram SB 5 through after carrying on with a historic filibuster last night that resulted in the First Special Session ending without the ability to vote on the bill.

Republicans, when not attempting to fool around with the time stamps, complained that the filibuster was fascist or showed a lack of decorum or other such niceities. It took them a bit to even admit that the session ran out before they could act.

The problem for them is that the bill they’re seeking to enact is a vicious and heinous bit of legislative skullduggery. Gov. Rick Perry has called for another special session on July 1 with the expectation of getting this passed. Indeed, I think he’s going to keep calling special sessions until the bill gets enacted, regardless of the consequences.

It would require doctors to maintain hospital privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of the facility and demand that the facility have certain other requirements. Moreover, it would require that beginning September 1, 2014, the minimum standards for an abortion facility must be equivalent to the minimum standards adopted under Section 243.010 for ambulatory surgical centers.

That latter provision would eliminate clinic access across most of the state - and add the efforts in neighboring states, and someone in parts of the state might have to travel hundreds of miles to find a clinic.

Consider that when you think back to if you’ve ever tried to find a local doctor in your neighborhood when you’re sick (and haven’t had a doctor before) Better yet, think back on trying to find a specialist that is near your home and with a schedule that you can deal with. Know how hard that is? Now imagine how tough these folks are making it on women seeking access to abortions.

The main claims by proponents are that these abortion restrictions are necessary for the health and safety of the women seeking abortions in the state. The problem is that abortion procedures are exceedingly safe. In fact, the morbidity and mortality statistics on women seeking abortion procedures is something that any medical profession would wish to have and is something that proponents of SB 5 simply ignore.

Via the CDC statistics for the nation:

In 2007, most (62.3%) abortions were performed at ≤8 weeks’ gestation, and 91.5% were performed at ≤13 weeks’ gestation. Few abortions (7.2%) were performed at 14—20 weeks’ gestation, and 1.3% were performed at ≥21 weeks’ gestation. During 1998—2007, the percentage of abortions performed at ≤13 weeks’ gestation remained stable; however, abortions performed at ≥16 weeks’ gestation decreased by 13%—14%, and among the abortions performed at ≤13 weeks’ gestation, the percentage performed at ≤6 weeks’ gestation increased 65%.

That’s out of a total of 827,609 abortions reported to CDC for 2007.

And what were the outcomes for the women? The morbidity and mortality rate was a grand total of six women who died as a result of having an abortion procedure.

Six. That translates in to a rate of one fatality in more than 137,000 procedures.

For comparison, the fatality rate in natural childbirth or c-sections is 12.7 per 100,000 in 2010 or nearly 13 times worse.

Plastic surgery? We’re not even in the same ballpark. 1 in 137,000 is vastly more safe than the morbidity and mortality rates in a wide range of cosmetic surgical procedures, many of which are now done in settings outside of hospitals. And the other studies’ figures bear that out too. Indeed, plastic surgery death rates are about 20 times greater - 19.1 per 100,000.

If Gov. Perry and the Texas GOP were really interested in womens’ safety, they’d be looking to shut down plastic surgeons and tightening restrictions on hospitals and other medical centers to get the rates down.

But it’s not about womens’ health or safety.

Of course, these GOPers will retort and fixate on the lives of the fetuses being aborted by the 10s of thousands, and care not one whit about the women seeking the procedures or why they may be seeking them. Or why they may need beyond 20 weeks to seek the procedures. That’s irrelevant to their determination to eliminate access to abortions. They figure that if they can not only reduce availability by imposing stricter standards on facilities and reduce the time frame in which someone can seek a legal abortion, they’ll reduce the numbers of abortions and eliminate the procedure over time. This, despite being ruled legal in Roe.

It’s about rolling back Planned Parenthood v. Casey and Roe v. Wade.

To do so, they’ve got to develop a legal challenge that results in a split of authority among the Circuits. That would necessitate the Supreme Court taking up the cases to resolve the difference in Circuits.

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