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Escape to the hills Great cabins on the beautiful Frio River Seven Bluff Cabins On River Road in Concan, TX 1.800.360.5260 Nine Texas Hill Country cabins with fully equipped kitchens, heat, air conditioning, TVs with DSS the open-records law from the state Comptroller’s Office. Amadeo Saenz, assistant executive director at TXDOT, said in a recent interview that the firm was blacklisted for a month or so last spring while TXDOT and PBS&J tried to work out a settlement on the overcharges. We never had any problem with the quality of work that PBS&J was doing,” Saenz said. “But we needed to settle the issue.” Despite PBS&J’s myriad financial and legal woes, the North Texas Tollway Authority and TXDOT have renewed its construction management contract to oversee numerous toll road projects planned for the Dallas-Fort Worth area. PBS&J is also the construction manager for portions of the Central Texas Turnpike Project, a $2.5 billion network of toll roads in north Austin. INFORMATION OVERLOAD Fullfrontal assaults on abortion rights get the media attention, but pro-life activists have been most successful in the slow but steady erosion of reproductive freedom. Two bills this legislative sessionHouse Bill 1750 by Victoria Republican Rep. Geanie Morrison and Senate Bill 785 by Plano Republican Sen. Florence Shapiroare symptomatic of what pro-choice supporters warn is a disturbing trend. Under the guise of gathering more information from abortion providers, the bills bury clinics under punitive regulations, expose judges and doctors to attacks, and further stigmatize the procedure for women. Providers already report each abortion, including the date and type of procedure, and the patient’s age, race, marital status, and county. The bills would add physician name, father’s age, how payment was provided, complications in the procedure, the referral source for the abortion, and if the patient is a minor, how she obtained consent, among other information. Patients can choose whether to report why they decided to have abortions. “No other type of medical treatment or procedure requires this level of reporting to the state,” says Bethany Herrera, who oversees regulatory compliance at the Routh Street Women’s Clinic in Dallas. Herrera says her clinic already keeps a medical complication log that the state inspects. The bills will make it more difficult for women to get follow-up care, Herrera says, because it requires in-depth reporting from physicians who see women with complications, even if the physicians didn’t perform the abortions. “No doctor is going to get involved in that,” Herrera says. “If you don’t [report correctly], if you don’t do it on time, you’re subject to fines and penalties.” Because 93 percent of the state’s counties don’t have an abortion provider, many women travel to find one, yet seek follow-up care with hometown physicians, she says. Shapiro insists more reporting will allow a “better-informed dialogue” on the issue. “It has nothing to do with individuals,” she says. “It has everything to do with data.” Morrison says having more information about why women get abortions could lead to outreach programs for low-income women, for example. The data also can identify whether one or two counties stand out from others, she says. Opponents fear the information could be used to identify and target physicians and even patients, especially in smaller counties. Then there are the judges. In Texas, minors without a qualified parent can ask a judge for a “judicial bypass” that allows an abortion to proceed. “You get small enough counties, and you can figure out who it is,” says Susan Hays, an attorney who handles bypass cases. Another section of the bills would require counties to report rulings on bypass cases. Reporting by county continued on page 21 APRIL 6, 2007 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 5