Senators Want Suehs to Nix the Rules

Rules circumvent legislative process

Retiring HHSC Executive Commissioner Thomas Suehs
Retiring HHSC Executive Commissioner Thomas Suehs

A week after the Department of State Health Services Council passed controversial new rules that would increase the amount of information that both women seeking abortion and their doctors would be required to report to the state, a group of Democratic senators is asking outgoing health commissioner to put on the brakes.

As we reported last week, Rep. Bill Zedler, R-Arlington, pushed to have the state's social services agencies to adopt a set of new abortion-reporting requirements via the agency's rule-making process that he and a handful of other GOP lawmakers have over at least the last four previous Texas Legislative sessions been unable to get passed through the democratic law-making process. The Department of State Health Services and Health and Human Services Commission were receptive to Zedler's desire and have worked since last spring to put the reporting requirements into state code – including information about a woman's level of educational attainment and a vaguely-worded requirement that doctors report additional information on abortion procedure "complications."

The DSHS Council gave the new requirements the thumbs-up at their June 14 meeting, passing them forward to HHSC for further hearing. In an effort to get the rules pulled from consideration, 10 Democratic senators let by Ft. Worth's Wendy Davis, signed on to a letter asking the retiring HHSC Executive Commission Thomas Suehs to pull the rules, which "circumvent the legislative process," from consideration. "[W]e should not allow the political agenda of a single member to circumvent the democratic process and the will of the Legislature," the senators wrote. "If this rule is published and adopted, it sets a terrible precedent and will have serious ramifications for years to come."

For more, check out our War on Women's Health page.

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Bill Zedler, abortion, reproductive rights, Department of State Health Services Council, Wendy Davis, Thomas Suehs, Legislature, 82nd Legislature, reproductive rights

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