Texas Republicans Seek To Punish Women And Doctors For Late Term Abortions

Texas legislators — who have already targeted women’s reproductive freedom by defunding Planned Parenthood clinics, making deep cuts to family planning services, and enacting hurdles to dissuade women from seeking abortions — aren’t satisfied with their state’s current threats to women’s constitutional right to choose. Now that they have already either proposed or enacted harsh abortion restrictions, GOP officials are turning their attention to the punishments they want to levy against the women and doctors who don’t comply.

Starting on December 31, Texas’ Health Department will impose even more red tape between women and their doctors when it begins requiring doctors to submit “abortion reports” — forms to document the basic details about the woman who had the procedure, as well as to verify that the doctor followed every step of the state’s law. And, as the Dallas Observer reports, the state will crack down on the doctors who don’t follow the new reporting requirements:

The doctor has to affirm in writing that the patient has been shown a sonogram of the fetus, listened to a heartbeat (if one is present), and shown the Woman’s Right to Know booklet, which still contains thoroughly debunked information linking abortion to breast cancer. There are also questions about the “method of pregnancy verification” and how the “fetal tissue and remains” were disposed of. […]

Texas law already prohibits third-trimester abortions, except in the case of fetal abnormality or risk to the woman’s life. It already requires forcing a woman to look at a sonogram, listen to a heartbeat and read a medically inaccurate, pink-tinted little pamphlet. So it’s not clear why the state is suddenly demanding extra proof that the doctor has done these things, plus making them outline the “medical indications” that led him or her to perform an abortion.

But the consequences are severe: Doctors who don’t comply with the new rules can be subject to “denial, suspension, probation, or revocation” of their medical license.

But it’s not just doctors who may be at risk of prosecution under Texas’ harsh laws. As the state considers a 20-week abortion ban modeled on Arizona’s current law, lawmakers will also decide on a way to punish the women who seek abortions at 21 or 22 weeks of pregnancy. According the Guttmacher Institute, the women who seek abortion services past 20 weeks of pregnancy are likely be victims of domestic violence. But as RH Reality Check reports, Gov. Rick Perry’s (R-TX) office confirmed that the details of those women’s punishment would be “worked out by the legislature.”

Perry recently reiterated that his “goal” is to completely outlaw all access to abortion services — and in addition to denying reproductive care to women who need it, that initiative is also about punishing the ones who seek it.