Early Filing at the Lege
Early filing began this week for the upcoming state legislative sessions. Already, the war on women’s health is on.
Texas legislators filed three abortion-restrictive bills Monday, assuring another heated fight for pro-choice advocates during the 2017 legislative session. In HB 201, Rep. Byron Cook, R-Corsicana, proposes a rule that would force women to cremate or bury fetal remains after abortions and miscarriages; reproductive health advocates slammed the rule as an ideologically motivated impediment to abortion access and unconstitutional during a series of public hearings. Two bills by Rep. Matt Schaefer, R-Tyler, would remove the current exception allowing women with severe, irreversible fetal abnormalities to obtain abortion care, and increase the reporting frequency at abortion facilities. Lawmakers are clearly undeterred by the smackdown delivered by the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in the Texas-based Whole Woman's case, which reinforces that women's health laws must be backed by science and medical necessity.
During a Monday press conference, Texas Democrats laid out their priorities for the upcoming session, including investments in public education, health care, infrastructure, criminal justice reform, foster care reform, increased voter participation, and cyberbullying protections. While sticking to largely non-controversial measures, Dems also addressed the inevitable onslaught of ideological bills. Women's health advocate Rep. Donna Howard, D-Austin, filed legislation that would exempt sales tax from the purchase of feminine hygiene products (known as the "tampon tax") and a bill seeking to reduce teen pregnancy rates by allowing birth control coverage under the Children's Health Insurance Plan. For more, see "GOP Targets Women's Health, LGBTQ Community in First Day of Lege Filing" online.